In Defense of Selfies

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According to the Internet, I only have one hand — the other one’s always taking the picture.

Some people say selfies are the bane of the Internet — AAA is warning about the dangers of selfies while driving, and articles like The 16 Worst Kinds of Selfies are seemingly everywhere (a friend linked to that one on Facebook last week). I think we can all agree to hate selfies of creepy dudes flexing in the bathroom mirror, or group pics of girls doing duckface. But I still take and post a lot of selfies, and it’s not because I love looking at pictures of myself on the Internet. (If looking at myself were the point, I could just take the pictures and not post them, right?) I post a lot of selfies because I need a lot of pictures. Photos helps posts get more traffic, and photos of people help even more. There are plenty of times that I bother my staff by sticking a camera phone in their faces, but sometimes I can tell they need some space, or they’re too busy doing their actual jobs to smile at my phone. And that’s when I take a picture of myself. Generally, my selfies are flattering, because given the choice between posting a pic of myself with bad hair and circles under my eyes and just taking another picture at a better angle, I’m going to go with the latter. As one of my customers put it, “You’re really photogenic, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at you.” (Think about that for a second — it’s not a compliment. But he meant well. I think.) But, while I might choose the filter that makes my skin look rosier than it really is, I’m not afraid of looking stupid either, as long as it gets people to listen to what I want to say. Yesterday, I spoke at UAB’s Innovations in Wellness conference about social media. I admitted to them that, between dressing up as Peter Pan or Hermione Granger, pretending to be a vampire, and doing special nail art for practically every holiday and book club, I end up looking like an idiot on the Internet a lot of the time. But I don’t mind looking silly if it brings people into my bookstore, or encourages them to click on a blog post where I get to communicate what I really want to say. Photos are great for business and great for blogging. Even if we post flattering selfies from time to time just to feel better about ourselves, I don’t see the harm. (If it’s okay for women to constantly see airbrushed and Photoshopped pictures of celebrities, I think it might be good to remind ourselves that, with the benefit of a good angle and an Instagram filter, we can look pretty cute, too.) Obviously, don’t take a selfie when you’re driving. But in general, I say we stop with the self-bashing already. Except, of course, for duckface — come on, that’s going too far.

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