An Open Letter to People Who Take Selfies
Dear People Who Take Selfies,
Hi. Okay. So. What’s a selfie? Oh, you know. It’s when you take a picture of yourself and post it on Instagram. Or Twitter. Or Facebook. Or whatever it is the kids are into these days (is YOLO a social network yet?).
You take a lot of selfies. Yes, you. You know who you are. And don’t pretend you don’t know what I am referring to, because all your friends and followers and family members have seen those self-portraits you post anywhere from three to seventeen times a day.
That’s a lot of seflies. And girl, (or guy), don’t get me wrong – I applaud you. Considering that a lot of us like to spend most of our time on Facebook untagging our names in unflattering photos (or is it detagging? Have we formally settled on the word to properly describe “removing pictures someone else posted from my Facebook timeline, because really, you were going to tag that?”), and you are one of the selfie-loving Instagrammers letting it all out for the Internet to see, up close and personal, filter or no filter – well then, you go, girl (or guy)!
But here’s the thing – people who maybe lack that confidence and selfie-love might not be as psyched about your propensity to over-document your every facial expression. Sure, you might see nothing wrong with taking a nice pic of yourself “stuck in traffic”, but when the picture has nothing to do with traffic and is really more about how nice your hair looks today (and trust me, I’ve done that), and when you start posting these pics more than, let’s say, once a week – you might be in danger of being labeled one of those “Yeah, Too Many Selfies So I Had to Unfollow” types.
You know who I’m talking about. Everyone’s got one or two of them in their Instagram feed. I have a feeling I am that person to some people. In fact, I’ve started to set up some rules for myself because overall, I think we could all agree that we’re taking too many selfies, We, as in the Royal We, as in not just the Kardashian sisters and whoever the heck those teenagers on the popular page of Instagram are (seriously though, WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE???). We, as in the collective group of Instagrammers and Twitterers and social media users, need to set some selfie boundaries, and as someone who is prone to TMS (Too Much Selfie-ing) herself, I am happy to share some of the selfie rules I’ve made for myself. I’m not saying you must abide by these rules, but if you spend too much time taking pictures of yourself and wondering how much is too much (like, ahem, me), then give my self-proclaimed “Stamos Selfie Rules” a whirl.
STAMOS SELFIE RULE #1: SELFIES ONLY ONCE A WEEK
Now obviously this rule doesn’t work for everyone – especially fashion bloggers who have to post selfies and OOTD (Outfit of the Day) pics. But for the hoi polloi, this is helpful for encouraging self-restraint. Also, this is where I need to give props to tumblr because they were the first online platform to embrace the selfie – or as it was previously known, the GPOY (the Gratuitous Picture of Yourself) – which was a nice way to take a self-portrait and post it with a modicum of self-preservation. You’re at least calling yourself out on the fact that the picture is, to a degree, pretty self-serving. In fact, Tumblr used to do this thing called GPOY Wednesday, which meant that every Wednesday was the day you could post a pic of yourself. I like that idea and it’s one I’ve tried to hold onto over at Instagram. I don’t let myself post a selfie more than once a week, and a lot of times I try to make it once a month.
STAMOS SELFIE RULE #2: SELFIES MUST BE FUNNY
If I do post a selfie consistently on a weekly basis, then I try to make sure it’s not a gratuitous photo with a caption like “Happy Friday!” and then just a really up close picture of my face. I mean, nobody wants that. But let’s say I am going to post that photo – then I do my best to acknowledge the inherent narcissism of it by writing a funny caption or calling myself out. Even better (and funnier) is posting a funny picture of myself – like the time I found that picture of me ten days after I had jaw surgery six years ago. That is not a nice picture, but it sure is funny. Perfect selfie.
STAMOS SELFIE RULE #3: WHATEVER, I’M GONNA DO ME
So the third rule sort of nixes the other two because honestly, it’s my Instagram account and I’m gonna do what I want. And you should, too! If the people who follow you don’t want to see your mug every day, then they can unfollow you. Whatever. Although, following Rule #3 does mean that we need to be willing to accept that people may unfollow you if your selfies are excessive or boring, and there’s nothing you can do about it, unless you go back to Rules #1 and #2. Or maybe you are Kim Kardashian, in which case, carry on.
Anyway, I hope that my guidelines for selfies have helped in some way. I’m not sure it really helped me. If anything, I just gave you all a front row seat to the extent of my narcissism. I can’t believe we live in a world where I wrote 1000 words on taking self-portraits. I gotta get outside more. And then I’m gonna take some pics of the outside… oooh, maybe I’ll get a good selfie!
Oh, and to those of you who I follow and read this and think, “She’s not talking about me, is she?” I totally am. You know who you are.
That excessively over-processed selfie photo comes via the deep recesses of Annie Stamell’s photo stream.