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Opening Arguments


And the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year Is . . . selfie.

The term’s early origins seem to lie in social media and photosharing sites like Flickr and MySpace. But usage of it didn’t become widespread until the second decade of this century and it has only entered really common use in the past year or so. Self-portraits are nothing new – people have been producing them for centuries, with the medium and publication format changing. Oil on canvas gave way to celluloid, which in turn gave way to photographic film and digital media. As the process became snappier (pun intended) so has the name. And now as smartphones have become de rigueur for most, rather than just for techies, the technology has ensured that selfies are both easier to produce and to share, not least by the inclusion of a button which means you don’t need a nearby mirror. It seems likely that this will have contributed at least in part to its increased usage. By 2012, selfie was commonly being used in mainstream media sources and this has been rising ever since.

I must confess that the first time I heard the word, I thought it, um, meant something else. You know, that practice we were told in high school could make us go blind and some of us smartassses said, well, I'll just do it until I need glasses. Come on, didn't some of you think that, too?

But a selfie is really a pathetic, narcissistic, "hey, look at me" self-portrait. So in a way, it is what I thought it was, just with an audience.