Friday, January 10, 2014

selfie - a definition

Clearly, someone at USC has decided that I'm some kind of go-to person for - what shall we say - the soft end of popular culture.  First, they get me talking for the video Christmas card on art history and snow (I have to say: someone in Animation did a great job of getting a sheep to trot out of a Farquharson painting, bleating).  Then they volunteer me to talk - blandly, in the end, since that's what PBS wanted - about Downton Abbey.  And this week, it's a request to write a short entry for a Dornsife magazine column called Definitions - about The Selfie.  A tri-partite formula was given me; I was told to take my own portrait, and off I went ...


Definition / selfē / noun /  A photographic self-portrait taken on a mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad, and disseminated through social media via Instagram, Facebook, etc.  Usually taken from a flattering angle, often showing self having fun with friends, in enviable surroundings or bizarre location.

Origins.  “Selfie” originated in Australia on an internet forum (ABC Online) in 2002.  The genre and word became common after the iPhone 4 (2010) introduced a front-facing camera device.  One of Time’s “top 10 buzzwords” of 2012; Oxford English Dictionary’s “word of the year” 2013; # SelfieOlympics became Twitter meme January 2014.

Usage: “Took this selfie to show everyone how cold it is at the MLA Convention in Chicago!  And ‘cos I look cute in a silly hat, LOL!!”

At which point, of course, it started to pour with rain, and warmed up, so there's a great deal of poetic license here, with me vicariously claiming to have been present in Greater Chiberia.  And really, of course, I should have waited, and submitted a picture of me having Fun With Friends at the Rutgers party ...

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