In 2013, Oxford Dictionary announced its word of the year.
“Selfie” happens to be that word.
The definition reads: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website…”
10 years ago, you would never have heard the word “selfie,” but since it’s rise in popularity, it’s hard to escape the power of this photographic phenomenon.
Songs have been written about them. Envy has erupted because of them. And now everyone is taking them — probably even your mom.
But where did this all begin? What genius was responsible for creating such a popular trend?
It was the year of 1839 when chemist and photography enthusiast Robert Cornelius sat down in front of his camera to take the world’s first selfie.
By removing the lens cap of his camera, running into the frame and covering the lens back up again, Cornelius unknowingly influenced a future generation to snap its own beautiful faces.
It’s hard to imagine how Cornelius would be feeling right now, seeing how his achievement has had such a great impact on this generation.
I always understood the allure behind taking a selfie. After many attempts of taking the “perfect” selfie, I can see how much hard work can actually be put into it.
Not only must you find the perfect angle, you must always be checking if your lighting compliments your face. And choosing the right filter is always a tough decision too.
People want to feel appreciated for the way that they look. And they want “likes” on their picture to prove that they are adored.
But are likes the only important thing about selfies?
I follow a few people on Instagram who usually post a selfie accompanied with an inspiring caption or a hashtag, illustrating how strong and beautiful they felt despite life’s setbacks.
This demonstrates that selfies, while they may be vain, also provide people with a coping mechanism.
As humans, we are plagued by hardship and drama everyday, but as humans we also want to cover up that fact. We want to appear strong and beautiful through difficult times.
Despite feeling weak, we can choose whoever we want to be because of selfies. They have the ability to create a powerful illusion.
Since Cornelius was fascinated by photography, it is probably safe to say that his enthusiasm for picture taking drove him to inadvertently creating the first selfie.
Maybe he was having tough day and needed a way to express himself.
It’s just a shame they didn’t have hashtags back then to attach to his inaugural selfie.
By seeing the millions of faces that are plastered onto our Instagram feeds daily, there’s really only one hashtag that could suffice for his achievement: