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The Year of the Selfie

Dec 28 | Posted by: Rebecca Loebe |

I heard that the word “selfie” was recently added to the dictionary. When I played at The Blue Rock Studios Christmas Concert last month, owner Billy Crockett wrote a parody of “Deck the Halls” that included the lyrics “narcissistic little elfies, on Instagram they’re posting selfies” (fa la la la la, la la la la). In that last sentence, I mis-typed and spellcheck automatically corrected the word for me. Selfies. The word is part of the culture now.

As a person trying to make a living in the quasi-public, I run a number of social media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (although pinterest has more to do with my desire to buy more things than I can afford, so I just tuck pictures of them away on pinboards and pine). If Myspace ever gets it’s act together again I’ll probably be back over there too. I appreciate the connectivity social media brings us, both because it’s a nice way to keep track of my friends but also because it’s a great way to connect with existing fans and try to reach new ones. 

When I joined Instagram last year, I felt a little late to the party (sort of like how I felt like a “late bloomer” when I had my first kiss at a party in 7th grade). I know it’s ridiculous; there are tons of people who don’t use the application now and who probably never will, but much like a hormone-fueled kiss from a pimply middle schooler with braces, it felt like something I needed to get out of the way, so I climbed on board. Most of my photos are of the sights and scenes that I encounter while out and about the country on tour - sunsets, old churches, pastures, friends, windmills, political rallies, stone bridges, venues, snapshots of my garden at home and animals of all shapes and sizes. There are some selfies, usually when I am standing near someone/something that I also want to take a photo of, but less than 10% of the photos I take/post fall into that category.

So recently I fell into a late night internet wormhole and found myself on a website that compiles your Top 5 Instagram posts of the year in chronological order with music. It’s cute. I plugged in my information and when my slideshow arrived, I was startled to see that all the photos (not just most, but all) were selfies. The same part of me that is a little reluctant to post selfies was a little grossed out by the slideshow (if one selfie is possibly too self-indulgent, five is out of the question). I did not post the slideshow anywhere. 

But it got me thinking: maybe I’m going about this wrong. I’ve intentionally put my mug on the cover of my last couple of records because I think that human connection is an important part of life in general and, by extension, the music business. I put myself on my album covers as a way of saying “Hello. I am here to share my music/thoughts/feelings/life with you. This is who you are listening to. Here is the “I” in my songs.” Certainly at some point I’ll use other art when it feels appropriate for the album (otherwise you’d be able to use my album covers to create a flipbook and watch me age…actually, that could be kind of cool…), but recently this is what has felt right to me and I have defended my choice in conversations with musicians who disagree. So why would I approach a social media profile differently?

So here’s what I’m embarrassed to admit: I’ve always assumed selfies are about the post-ers, in some way craving feedback for their appearance. Perhaps I wasn’t looking at the whole picture. In this new digital relationship that we are creating, material is experienced by the post-er and by the post-ee (I’m just making up words here left and right, forgive me). Have I been too focused on my experience as the poster? Have I been shy about posting selfies in part because I don’t want to be judged in the way that *I* judge people who post tons of selfies? (note: If you read this and you post tons of selfies, I’m totally not talking about you. I’m talking about all the other people). 

So. 2014. Less judgement. More selfies?

Thanks for following along,


PS: In case you’re wondering, I looked up the dictionary definition of “selfie.” Oxford says: “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

And then Oxford checks itself and realizes that it is shelved among respected volumes of reference material. In an impressive compromise move, Oxford slides a little shade into the second half of its definition, with the requisite example of context: “occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.”

Duly noted, Oxford. Duly noted.

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