Selfie was named “Word of the Year” by one of the last remaining dictionary publishers. That has me thinking a lot about Selfies today. My conclusion: From all indications, we’ve solidly entered the “Age of the Selfie.”
For those over 30 or living under a rock, a selfie is a photo taken of one’s self, almost always with one’s cellphone camera. Generally, a selfie is posted on a social media site like Facebook with the intent of impressing friends and family within the context of the geographic setting, be it a music concert, a chance encounter with the Pope, or just getting drunk with some stranger.
In retrospect, this isn’t the first Age that has shaped our contemporary world. Before there was Selfies, there were atoms, space, and Aquarius.
For instance, my parents came into adulthood during the Atomic Age, that period of history following the detonation of the first atomic bomb through the early 1960s. The Atomic Age was seen to be the epitome of progress and modernity for the post-war era generation. The Atomic Age was a time where the mighty but invisible atom would cure all our ills and diseases (from polio to the common cold), and power all our new fangled inventions (from microwave toasters to oceangoing transit). All while keeping peace on the planet.
The Atomic Age came to an end when we realized the atom was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hiding a far reaching range of social problems, from nuclear weapons proliferation to environmental disasters as diverse as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, and waste disposal and weapon and power plant decommissioning.
The Space Age began to overshadow the Atomic age on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite.
The launch of the Space Age began a competitive era of technological, scientific, and political achievements that were realized most by the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Space Age reached its zenith with the landing of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, an event watched by over 500 million people across the globe.
The Age of Aquarius began with the Summer of Love in 1967, and then reached its heyday during the New Age and hippie and movements in the late 1960s and through the mid 1970s.
The 1967 musical Hair, with its hit single song “Aquarius” featuring the line “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius”, became the anthem of a generation of disenfranchised youth who protested the Vietnam War, professed love over hate, and practiced the art of free love.
The end of the War, followed by the gasoline shortages of the mid- to late seventies and 1980, and finally Reaganomics brought the end of Aquarius.
The Age of the Selfie arrives
Since those long-gone days of yesteryear, few Ages seem to be as memorable as those of other generations. At least until now. Finally, a new generation finally has an Age it can call its own… The Age of the Selfie.
The Age of the Selfie was born from the loins of the iPhone and Facebook. It is self-reflecting, like that mirror mirror from Snow White that was owned by the Evil Queen.
Which leads me to reinterpret the Evil Queen’s famous lines to fit the new Age of the Selfie to read something like this (all forgiveness to Brothers Grimm):
“Magic Selfie in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?” The Selfie always replied, “My Queen, you are the fairest in the land.” The Queen grew lazy as to always be pleased with that answer, because she knew the Magic Selfie never lied.
But soon a day came when Snow White became as beautiful as the day and even more beautiful than the Queen.
When the Queen asked her mirror on that day, “Magic Selfie in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?” it responded faithfully with the truth: “My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more beautiful than you.”
Then like the fairy tale princess, the Age of the Selfie was taken into the woods to be forgotten and die.