Appeared online for ANOKHI Media, Jan. 27, 2014

“1, 2, 3…Smile!”

In the past, these instructions were usually said to a posed cluster of people but last year, social-media lovers increasingly turned the camera around. Armed with smartphones, and at times, a well-practiced duck face, “selfies” became a social media staple in 2013.
With platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapshat, Instagram, and Vine, selfies have become the new-age self-portrait, albeit, slightly less glamourous. Last year, the Internet was populated by self-snapped photos of everyone, ranging from the classic bathroom selfie to Lady Gaga without makeup to Pope Francis, posing with excited followers.

In fact, taking photos of ourselves became so popular last year that Oxford Dictionaries named “selfies” the 2013 word of the year. According to their language research, Oxford Dictionaries estimates that between 2012 and 2013, use of the term “selfie” in the English language increased by 17,000 per cent.

This term may be in the dictionary now, but Ryerson University media professor Ramona Pringle says that “selfies” mean a lot more than just taking a photo of ourselves with a smartphone and uploading it to social media.

“We live in the connected age, the era of social media. We take photos to share them, with our friends, loved ones and networks. People take selfies because they want to be loved, they want someone, for one moment, to say, “I love you”, or “you look great”, or “wow, look at that cool thing you’re doing,” says Pringle.

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