• Julie Nicholls

Taking the self out of selfie



This weekend I spent an amusing/depressing 30-minute train journey feeling very old. I was sat across the aisle from a couple of teenagers out on a date. They were trying to take a selfie to capture the momentous occasion. I don’t know how many shots they took but as I got off at my stop half an hour later they were still arguing over what to post. They'd tried shots with and without coats. Then with and without jumpers. Hair parted to the left. Hair parted to the right. Arms around each other. Smiling. Pouting. They even moved seats twice to get better lighting.


Whilst I admire their dedication to their art and the attention to detail, which was worthy of the best art directors I have worked with, it did make me a little bit sad. What started out as a fun snap quickly degenerated into a heated discussion over every hair out of place and every imagined imperfection. And more so with the guy than the girl I might add. He just couldn’t seem to get his hair to look 'sic'. They then discuss at great length which filters made them look the most ‘natural’. **sighs**


I’ve never really embraced the whole selfie thing. Photos of me are few and far between. Maybe that’s the reason the selfies I do have messing around with the family transport me back to that a moment in time. They are taken as memories to treasure. I don’t look back on them and think ‘why didn’t I try that shot with my coat off?’ OK, I often think ‘why are my eyes shut’ but hey I’m sensitive to light!


I guess the difference is that I’m taking selfies with my loved ones for fun and nobody else is ever likely to see them. The train couple seemed to be trying very hard to curate the perfect life. The perfect date for social media. It’s a shame it seems to take so much angst to appear spontaneously happy. It seems the selfie has become less about self and more about public opinion.


Witnessing this small snapshot of life was a timely reminder that we don’t live perfect lives. Despite what we see on the social feeds, everyone’s just trying their best to appear ‘natural’ one filtered shot at a time. Behind each perfectly composed photograph there’s probably a whole other narrative.


Next time I think I’ll skip the people watching and just read a good book! #keepingitreal

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