I saw this article by James Franco about selfies, and I thought I would share. When I think of the selfie, I think of Myspace, with girls in tank tops outstretching their arms above their heads and snapping pictures, maybe in front of a bathroom mirror. Is that too specific? Nowadays, however, the selfie means so much. As Franco explains, everyone’s doing it, and everywhere. People certainly are mocked for being too self-obsessed. Nonetheless, people can’t seem to resist. Franco explains:
In a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing.
The more we enter the virtual world, the more we love to share, and with more and more speed. Understandably, the selfie creates a sense of intimacy; you’re only an arm-length away. However, the consequences of selfie-culture seem to lie in the question: Do they actually represent the truth? Franco claims that he likes selfies because they’re more personal:
The selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, “Hello, this is me.”
Though selfies claim to do just that, I find that they can be just as perfomative as any other kind of photo. The other day, I was watching an episode of Catfish on MTV, in which a boy had been in an online relationship with a girl for six years. She had sent him a couple of photos, all of which were selfies. Then, when they met in person, she looked radically different. He was, of course, pretty pissed. What’s more, the fact that there are strategies on how to take a good selfie is proof that they do not represent real life. If we honestly believed that they did, perhaps we would’ve called them self-portraits, instead of coining this new term “selfie” with its phony connotations.
Despite the selfie’s inherent fakeness, it holds immense transformative power. Indeed, taking a photo of yourself, manipulating the lighting, the angle, maybe adding a filter, is perhaps one way of showing how all truth is subjective truth. If you claim to be one way, and represent yourself in that way, how can anyone argue that it’s not true? The selfie symbolizes truth as performance. The more we immerse ourselves in social media, the more real our virtual selves become. I guess it becomes a matter of interpretation on whether or not the virtual world gives us the power to deceive, or the power to define our own reality.