Oxford Dictionary celebrated the “selfie” phenomenon by making it the word of the year in 2013. However, the American dictionary, Merriam-Webster, decided to one-up its British counterpart by using a more serious word: “science.” So why did the folks over at the Oxford Dictionary decide that the “selfie,” mocked as a vain and silly way to take self-portraits on your smart phone, was worth the distinction?
If you take a look back at 2013, selfies have been consistently in the news. Celebrities on Instagram take selfies regularly, including Beyonce. Sasha and Malia Obama took a selfie at President Obama’s inauguration; Hilary and Chelsea Clinton captured a selfie; even Pope Francis has been caught in the craze. Selfies can be taken anywhere: at funerals next to the casket, while taking a tour of the Nazi occupation concentration camp Auschwitz, while in space as an astronaut, or after rescuing four people from a car crash scene (if you’re Mitt Romney’s son, Josh Romney).
We’re also really worried about what the selfie means. Is it making us more narcissistic? Is it making us vainer? Or contrarily, is it good for the self-esteem of young girls?
We wonder why men take nearly twice as many selfies than women. We talk about people who have taken selfies on the toilet or while breastfeeding. We know the classic poses: duckface, muscle shot in the mirror, etc. The new G2 smart phone made by LG even includes a button you can press on the back of the phone, primarily for the purpose of making it even easier to take a selfie.
So with all of this hullaballoo about the selfie, it makes sense that Oxford Dictionary would pick this social phenomenon as its word of the year for 2013.
What do you think about the selfie? Are you a fan or no?
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Jinje, Safa. “Auschwitz, Chernobyl, the 9/11 memorial: Where is it inappropriate to take a selfie?” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/anne-franks-house-chernobyl-the-911-memorial-where-is-it-inappropriate-to-take-a-selfie/article14023793/. (4 Dec. 2013).
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“LG puts buttons on back of G2 smartphone.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23606919. (4 Dec. 2013).