Something that I didn’t anticipate when I moved to coastal Colombia was just how much people would be into taking selfies. Like, really into it. Into it enough that myself and my fellow volunteers have noticed it – separately – as a phenomenon that we then later discussed.
What I am really trying to understand is what makes selfie culture so distinct. It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but I’ve got some bullet points:
- When handing your phone over to a stranger to ask them to take a picture for you poses a pretty significant risk of having said phone run away with that stranger, you tend to be less willing to ask strangers to take photos and more willing to stretch those arms and do it yourself (that is, the risk of having your phone robbed makes you less likely to ask other people to take your photos)
- There’s a ton of body and face contorting that goes into selfies to get the perfect angle
- Especially if you’re going to be sure you get that butt in the picture; it takes a special talent I’m not sure I could ever possess
- When people take pictures of things they want to show you, they don’t just show you the thing. In fact, more often than not they hardly show the thing. Rather the thing will be in the picture behind them or maybe they’re on it or something.
- Example: when out to grab dinner with friends, they told me to put down my fork so we could take a picture before eating. I, the American, assumed we were taking a picture of the food and did that (which was perfect for another blog post I have planned). They looked at me funny and were like, “OK, but give me your phone so we can take a selfie.”
- On that note, the selfie is always taken with the most expensive cell phone available. People will consistently ask iPhone users to borrow their phones to take selfies and then Whatsapp the photos to themselves. Never mind that the pictures are condensed in that process.
- People do not tend to choose favorites for social media and instead post all (insert numbr here) that they took.
- Okay, so that’s a thing that only some people do. I did once watch a woman on a bus spend 20 minutes selecting between her selfies and editing each of the three she had narrowed it down to and then selecting from there.
- Posting the pics with a couple of cryptic words as captions is the way to go. Don’t give too much information about where you were or what you were doing or who you were with; the important thing is your face.
- Do it. Always. Whenever.
For those of us not accustomed to these sorts of selfies or the sort of social media posts that come with them, it can make us feel awkward and stupid of course. Maybe unsurprisingly, they can also make us feel vain. Because what all of this comes down to, really, is an obsession beauty. An ideal of beauty. And not just beauty, but also sexiness. I have several blog posts planned over the next few weeks that will explore how this manifests, but I thought this would be a fun way to kick it off.
Thanks to my homies Lindsay, Helena, James, Mia, Monica, Angela, and Jordan for contributing their selfies to this post! Here’s a little video I made of what the selfie process looks like to me.