A woman has risked her life hanging off a 1,004ft tower in Dubai to have pictures of herself taken with a mobile phone. More brainless than brave, but the image marks another milestone in the unstoppable rise of the selfie culture.
Parents routinely complain that children experience life through their phones, spending hours doctoring images, creating a totally fake view of the world. But are adults any better? Once, you returned from holiday and waited for the photos to be processed. Now, we post daily selfies on Instagram and Facebook so that family and friends can share vacation experiences as they happen.
Go out for a meal, and you’ll see other diners photographing dishes and posting the images online before they even eat. There’s even an unlikely craze in the “toilet selfie” – every time I go to a posh dinner, I’m followed by other women keen for a group snap in the cubicle.
Pop stars complain that now they perform to a sea of phones, with not a face in sight. And at the opening of the wonderful David Hockney exhibiton at Tate Britain the other week, quite a number of visitors had dressed up to pose for selfies in front of the most iconic works, blocking out most of the art. Some were even providing commentaries for their followers!
Social commentators reckon we’re turning into a generation of self-obsessed narcissists who can’t deal with the real world unless we’ve photographed ourselves in it and “improved” our appearance with edits and filters. These days, events once deemed out of limits are a chance for a selfie: a third of us admit to taking them at funerals, and David Cameron posed with Barack Obama during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.
Further tasteless examples include the stag party that turned up at Ground Zero in New York with a blow-up sex toy – but in general selfies are harmless fun. Remember punk? That movement brilliantly acted as a generation-divider. Anyone could cut up a T-shirt, hack their hair and wear a black bin bag to upset their parents. Punk eventually fizzled out, but it served a purpose. The same will happen with selfies: one day they’ll be deemed passé, and we’ll move on to something else. In the meantime, there are more important things to get upset about.
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