Are Selfies a Necessary Evil?

So, regular readers of this blog will know that selfies are somewhat of a bugbear to me. I generally have been criticised for lack of photos of myself, but you know I do take them from time to time and frankly, I know what I look like and I struggle to understand why anyone else would want to see photos of me!

So what is the deal with selfies? Okay, I have asked this question before, but I think I have more of a handle on the answer now, and why so many people take them. But there are other smaller questions to answer too tied up with the bigger question.

Is it a growing trend towards narcissism? I can’t spell it, so maybe I have no right to ask. But there are selfies and then there are SELFIES. That is, people taking photo after photo, in search of the ‘perfect’ photo to showcase themselves. And this is a big part of travelling today. Yes, I see loads of people just wanting a photo or two in front of an historic landmark – and often in front of something they possibly can’t actually name, but equally I have noticed that come 2020 or in fact a few years earlier, people are taking their selfies with a high degree of seriousness and importance.

Which also means posing is an important thing too. And it’s basically tied up with people looking to be, or in many cases actually being, a “social influencer”. Yes, they have grown their Instagram accounts to the point where they are considered – or at least consider themselves – to be an influencer. On the social sphere I guess. And it can be very lucrative. Showing off an expensive handbag or some sort of travel apparel can land you sponsorship. Or more.

And when you travel, you see people trying to do this, or actually doing this. Personally, I never really cared that much what I looked like when I traveller, especially back in the day. Or even today, although I generally would like to be a bit neater than I ever am. Clicks are the thing because money can be made. Through Instagram? Can you make money? I guess you can although I don’t know how. I understand the basics in terms of YouTube and blogs, but how people make a career out of Instagram (apart from direct sponsorship I guess as mentioned above) I’m not sure.

But then the on ground experience is another thing. I have been handed phones and asked to take a photo of someone in front of a famous landmark. I remember distinctly in Jerusalem in front of the ‘I heart Jerusalem’ sign, last year. I was handed a phone to take someone’s photo. Why not? I had time. But then they wanted a second, a third…. It went on. And then this couple came along, I just wanted a picture of the sign by itself, but they literally spent ten minutes taking selfies in and around the sign. One shot and I was done. Honestly. They could see I was waiting there, let me take my one photo and then spend hours on the sign if you want.

But – selfies are more important today than ever if you are trying to grow a brand. I run a blog and YouTube channel, and I never realised, or indeed considered, that people might want to know who I was. Until a friend at work told me I basically don’t feature anywhere. And so, well, I got me a cartoon of me looking much thinner than I am today, and I tried to take more photos of myself when I travelled last year. Not that many more though!

It’s not criminal to take a selfie, or have someone take it for you. But honestly, holding up two fingers, getting in bizarre positions, spending ages working out all sorts of angles and tricks, I try hard but I can’t help but roll my eyes. And I confess, I have now started photographing people taking selfies. I can’t help it. And I took quite a few last year, so check out this camera roll below!

So why do people take selfies? Why do so many take selfies? Remember, 20 years ago taking a selfie without a digital camera – you couldn’t guarantee a decent photo. So firstly, it’s easy these days with cameras which have a front camera. And people are promoting themselves, and that’s 2020 for you and you can’t begrudge them that. And some people are having a laugh – I don’t mind that at all. If they’re posing but it’s a bit of fun.

And the remaining ones… that are serious… and possibly narcissistic…. I’m going to continue to roll my eyes at and fail to understand. Thanks for reading today – May the Journey Never End!

21 thoughts on “Are Selfies a Necessary Evil?

    1. Ha! I can understand the disdain at selfie takers and those obsessed with getting a perfect shot 100%. I try to get a picture of myself though at every attraction I visit for the first time, and also several of the place itself, then after that, the phone/camera is gone and I try to take in the place without a lens. I think my generation is too caught up in themselves honestly. There’s so much more to life.

  1. We hate selfies too. The worst is, as you said, when you have to wait for them to take 100 shots before they clear the area so you can take a picture of the site. I understand them now a bit. When we told someone we didn’t want ourselves in the picture, the other tourist said ‘how will you prove you were here?’. I guess since it’s so easy to get pictures nowadays their follwoers/friends/whatever don’t beleive them if there’s no selfie.

  2. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who rolls my eyes at selfie-takers! I’ve come across so many blog posts with titles like “my trip to ….” and all I see is a poser, front and center. My upbringing and nature (and probably my age) go against the whole selfie-taking thing. I like how you’ve turned it around and taken photos of the selfie-takers. When I was at the Eiffel Tower last year I was thinking that this concept would make a great coffee-table photo book.

  3. I’m not in the selfie either, not at all. However, I understand that others are motivated to take pictures of themselves in front of famous places, just as I can be motivated to photograph famous places. I think this shows the difference in the subject of interest. It is due to a lack of interest and curiosity about the place visited that some people are succumbing to the social pressure of the selfie.

  4. Hi Andy, This is a perfect topic. I’ve resorted to just taking photos of people taking selfies at a tourist site, too. It’s a rather interesting photographic study of behavior. It seems that some people aren’t even looking at what’s around them.
    It’s really gotten out of hand, although I am guilty of taking them with my husband when we are traveling so we have a memory of us together. I draw the line at selfie sticks- thus the unflattering close-ups of our faces! 😂

  5. Love this post! I too get bothered when I see people taking full on photo shoots , focusing on the pictures rather than the experience at hand. If the point of a trip is to get a photo for social media, the intentions are wrong.

    I’m abysmal at remembering to take photos, so I’ve actually been working on taking more. My parents aren’t too fussed by pictures of points of interested, but they want to see me in front of them! Turns out you want proof your daughter is alive and well via photos haha.

  6. Oh I’m so with you on the selfie issue. Its a pain. How did that whole trend even start? I have no compunction asking people who are mucking about to please step away so I can take a photo and move on. As for me….I might take one on very rare occasions….very rare….

  7. Let’s just say I wanted to push 95% of the people on the Charles Bridge in Prague right off into the river a few years ago! Oh, god, the posing and the primping and pouting … nearly intolerable. Eventually I started to just laugh at them and, like you and a few others, take photos of their lunacy!

  8. I also draw the line at Selfie Sticks and people who take too long taking selfies in front of popular attractions or do so all the time and in odd places. But I don’t frown at selfies altogether or judge people for taking them. I agree with Lookoom’s comment about motivation and interests and I think, to each, his own.

  9. I sometimes take a selfie if I am on my own and there is no one to ask to take a picture of me. I love the selfies where, especially the girls, do this weird pouting with their lips. They look hilarious ;). I do not mind people taking selfies, apart when they almost hit me with their selfie stick. That rely pisses me of when they do not look around.

  10. Narcissistic? Yes, that could definitely be a part of it… LoL, I once had a roommate who could spend up to ten minutes taking selfies from different angles.

    Again, like you said Andy, many people actually snap photos without having an idea of the name of the touriat attractions behind em and it’s funny sometimes.

    I talk about this in an upcoming post about photography in art galleries and it’s really surprising what I uncovered from research.

    More and more people are visiting for selfies and Instagram posts and minimising time spent on learning about art.

    It’s shocking!

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