A little bit of news that hit the media this week was that Oxford Dictionaries announced the “Word of the Year,” and it was the word “selfie.”
For those who have no idea what that word is or means, a “selfie” is a photograph you take of yourself with a handheld device (mobile phone, ipad, etc.) and then upload it to social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
The amazing thing is that Oxford was actually able to trace the word back to the first time it was used to an inebriated Australian who described a picture he took with his cell phone and uploaded of his smashed-up face that was a result of his tripping and landing on it while drunk.
The choice of this word as “Word of the Year” causes me, as a media literacy teacher, to reflect and ask questions about the world we and our kids live in.
- What is it like for our kids who live in a world where they must be involved in and maintain an online identity that ultimately is a big part of who they are?
- What does a student who takes a “selfie” and uploads it for the world to see really doing? What social or emotional needs does this connect to for them?
- What does a “selfie” say about the person? What does a world where selfies are a part of life say about our lives? When someone takes a “selfie” are they taking it for themselves or for others or both?
To try and understand it better I decided that I would take my first “selfie” for this article. I must say it was an interesting experience for me on so many levels. My daughter actually took a picture of me as I was trying to do it because to her it was hilarious that her dad was taking a selfie. I could write a whole other article about all that I went through in regards to the process of a “selfie,” but won’t. I will just say that it took a lot longer than I thought, and there were so many things I took into consideration as I realized that so many people would see this picture (angle of photo, lighting, hair, background, etc., etc.). I can also admit that I took a lot of pictures trying to get one that I liked and that didn’t make my head seem huge and my double chin so obvious.
So parents, this weekend why not go ahead and take a “selfie” and post it on your social media. I promise that after doing it you will have a better understanding or your children’s world, and if you are like me, probably a lot of questions that will not have immediate answers — but will begin to teach you more about the world we live in.