The “selfie”, the production of a photographic self-portrait using a smart phone camera, has been a popular topic in the soi-disant news media for a little while. I must admit to being amazed, following the hysterical Sunday Format on Radio 4 many years ago, that newspaper Lifestyle pages (where this topic has been a mainstay) seem to continue unchanged and without the slightest hint of irony – but it is so. But, to return to my main theme, the recent announcement that the OED has made “selfie” their New Word of the Year has only added accelerant to the existing flames.
Anyone who has been following this blog for a while, may remember my very poor quality attempt to capture an image of myself on or near a Eurostar train, primarily to make my nephew jealous – an activity, which following his karate competition-winning exploits this last weekend, may be rather more dangerous than I had previously realised. In general, I try to avoid any photographic evidence of my existence entering the public (or indeed a private) domain. So far as I can recall, the nearest thing to a selfie on this blog are my plum-clad legs and white-socked feet (at which sight, I’m sure many a reader has swooned) – though there is, of course, the infamous “vlog” post for those not of a nervous disposition.
I do, in fact, have a few photos that might count as “selfies”. These are normally taken on some high point, with the camera (these pre-date the smart phone) perched precariously on a trig point or cairn, with use of the timer enabling me to (mostly) appear within frame. These shots are to prove to my mother (and anyone else interested) that I was really there. Occasionally, another hiker can be persuaded to capture a small portion of my soul for posterity, but this is less fun than the DIY approach.
Other selfies have occasionally been needed to use as a thumbnail for Skype or other similar applications. My “picture” for Twitter is in fact a small jar of spice and another of fish (anchovies, if anyone is interested) – a choice which is explained in a much earlier post. Such thumbnails are just taken “live” when required without any preparation or posing (except for the two jars which were posed with some care) – and, probably show both this total lack of preparation and the dread concentration need to line everything up while pushing the right button. My last such thumbnail is probably a good 5 or more years old by now.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should make clear that this lack of desire for images of myself does not arise from some virtuous lack of vanity (as this blog, where all is vanitas, should readily prove) – perhaps quite the reverse.
Las week, the “man” suddenly decided that “he” needed a selfie of me to include as part of a proposal going out to a potential client. I realise that this has been de rigeur for models and actors for some time, but I hadn’t realised it had spread to the life of the mere desk jockey. I’m not sure what seeing a small, dodgy photo of me can add to a proposal (unless it were one of marriage) – especially if it were to be read at a meal time – and can only feel it is part of our society’s increasing obsession with images and the self. Do serious business folk reject or accept proposals because the delivering team would involve someone with blue eyes, a side-parting or ginger hair? I’m sure I’ve written before about the number of TV programmes which are a much shorter, punchier radio programme with some moving pictures unnecessarily tacked on. In a similar vein, I always find myself railing against websites where a potentially interesting article requires me to watch a video – I’d far rather read some text (with the odd picture, if you insist) while I continue to listen uninterrupted to BBC 6Music, Radio 3 or a CD. It would seem that I am a fan of using the simplest medium for any given message – perhaps an otherwise latest desire for efficiency finding an outlet? (This post was supposed to be a really short one – so much for efficiency!)
Anyway, I felt I had to comply with the request and so had to rifle through back-ups (backs-up?) of old hard drives to seek an image of myself not standing triumphant on hill or mount. Perhaps readers would care to decide whether the proposal will have gained or lost from its inclusion…