Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Self[ie] Absorbed

Mona Lisa image from InOnIt
Even without a single Marshall McLuhan reference, a semi-recent Associated Press article manages to make some interesting points about our contemporary selfie craze, even quoting a "personal brand consultant" who channels the late media theorist: "In the era of the Kardashians, everyone has become their own paparazzi."

The article offers two perspectives. Carole Lieberman (Beverly Hills psychiatrist) represents the Narcissus Critique: "The rise of the selfie is a perfect metaphor for our increasingly narcissistic culture. We're desperately crying out: Look at me!" Pamela Rutledge (Media Psychology Research Center director) responds with an Historical Parallel Justification: "Albrecht Durer's self-portraiture is these incredible self-reflections and explorations of technique, and then when Rihanna snaps her picture it's just self-aggrandizement, or it's promotion, so you have a fairly interesting double standard based upon who's taking the self-portrait."

The article explains the "ie" at the end of selfie as a diminutive indicator, a "little self" that signifies an intentionally transitory, incomplete articulation of personhood, before concluding with a thoughtful reminder (quoting Rutledge) that while few folks critique school portraits, family snapshots, and other methods of self-presentation, "we don't know how to think about this mass production of self-reflection."

Read the whole piece: Associated Press: What did Narcissus say to Instagram? Selfie Time!

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