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Wednesday November 20, 2013

The scourge of the 'selfie'


Come rain or shine there’s one peculiarity that many younger holidaymakers seem to share these days: a love of the ubiquitous ‘selfie’ snapshot and the more dubious the better. There was a time when if a lone tourist were seen to be pulling a decidedly silly face to camera, posing in exhibitionist manner on a beach, back of a donkey, dolphin or other passing tourist fancy, people would merely snigger and shake their heads.

Now it seems the norm to take self portraits – the more inane the better – with i-phones to share with friends instantaneously on social networking sites. It’s okay to ‘twerk’, poke out your tongue, pull up your T-shirt, shove a bottle of lager down your shorts and make lewd gestures because apparently that shows you’re having a fabulous and fun time abroad and life is good. Maybe I’m showing my age but whenever did it stop being cool to take pictures of the place you’re actually visiting, the people, your friends and dare I say it, even your family?

Interestingly a survey commissioned by Hotels.com, the online accommodation booking site, gives a snapshot of the current trends adopted by holidaymakers. According to the poll, 5.4 million Britons admitted posting ‘braggies’ – presumably one step worse than a ‘selfie’ – within ten minutes of arrival in a chosen holiday destination. Six million Britons apparently only posted snaps via mobiles to make friends jealous, and a needy 39 per cent of the 2000 participants of the survey were honest enough to confess to uploading ‘braggies’ in various poses on sites such as Facebook to appear more interesting, popular or in a quest to increase social engagement. The poor old things evidently have dismally low self esteem.

The tacky term ‘selfie’ is according to the Oxford dictionary the word of the year but it seems ‘braggie’ is soon to wipe it off the slate as the naturally egotistical among us go to even greater lengths to get noticed via social media sites. These days 33 per cent of Britons holidaying overseas rush to take images of themselves surrounded by cocktails, lying on a beach or by the pool in sun shades while many like to strike a pose making a ‘duck face’- please don’t ask me why.

Of the top ten locations Britons chose for recording their holiday memories, the pool or beach topped the list and most popular shots seemed to be of ‘me, myself, I’. Perhaps the least attractive aspect of selfie-dom is that 70 per cent of Britons asserted that they doctored and tweaked their shots before uploading them on the internet so that they appeared more tanned, slimmer and alluring.

So what does this tell us? Are we becoming a nation of preening egomaniacs, or is the ‘selfie’ obsession merely a means to emulate self absorbed and vacuous celebrities who created the distasteful trend in the first place? For what it’s worth, I won’t be giving up the Box Brownie any time soon.





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