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Arzu Kaya Uranli Headshot

Turkey Took a Big Time Selfie

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Nowadays, people are racing to take selfies and share them on social networks to be part of this phenomenon. On social media, we have seen very different kinds of selfies. It's hard to determine how artistic a selfie can be, but apparently these casual photos are getting more and more popular every day.

Honestly, in the past, selfies gave me a feeling of loneliness. I thought that the person taking the selfie was enjoying the moment so much, but apparently no one was around to share her joy. Thus she had to take her photo by herself to share it with her loved ones. So in my understanding, the selfie was a cover for misery.

However, now we see group selfies as well. Selfie-mania becamse critical when 86th Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres uploaded a photo of 12 celebrities in a selfie. By the end of the ceremony that selfie had been retweeted over 2 million times. Now taking group selfies has become a fashion and everybody is taking a part.

In the 21st century, with the rise of individualism, people have become ignorant, insensitive and careless to each other, and instead of looking deep inside of themselves they are more interested and occupied in watching others. Instead of listening deeply to their hearts, people are more involved in other's personal lives.

Therefore, taking selfies is important. When you turn your camera onto yourself instead of others, you can see your true self clearly. Also, the selfie cannot hide the real you as much as a regular camera shot would, because your arm's length determines the distance between you and the camera and you don't have the luxury of playing around to get the best shot, as you would be able to do with a camera on a tripod and a photographer. As my nine-year-old says, when you take a selfie, you "get what you get and never get upset."

Turkey has been posing for many photos and taking plenty of selfies since last May, with the beginning of the Gezi demonstrations. The country's vivid, dramatic and impressive photos have been rocking social media. These days, while we as a society have been taking and sharing one selfie after another, we have realized many things weren't the way we thought they were in Turkey. Especially since Dec. 17, when the corruption news broke, Turkey has looked very different in those selfies.

Since then, many of us have been thinking that Turkey's problematic democracy has transformed into an autocracy and that Turkey is confidently on its way to becoming a member of the "freedom league" -- with such players as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea, where freedom of speech and human rights are secondary issues.

Also, indeed, we presumed that over the last decade Turkey progressed in its political and economic transformation. When the Arab uprisings exploded in 2011, Turkey gained more importance as a model for others in the region with its trade, diplomatic outreach and cultural exports following its achievement of a working democracy in a Muslim majority state; yet in the last six months Turkey has lost its credibility in the international area. Beneath the surface, there is deep concern about the direction the country is heading.

Since the Gezi demonstrations and especially after Dec. 17, when the corruption news exploded onto the scene, our morals have been wounded in several ways in Turkey. People have lost their trust. Everybody is questioning everything. We lost our collective wisdom as a society.

Polarization, othering and intolerance are major problems now, and we have to fight against them to be able to be whole. It will take some time to ease all this pain and heal all these wounds. Our selfies have showed us once again that each individual is important. So, respecting differences is a must for harmony in society. In a strong democracy, people expect to learn from each other.

On March 30, Turkey took another selfie: the selfie of the last 12 years! The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has won Sunday's local elections in Turkey and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) filed an appeal alleging vote rigging. For Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's embattled prime minister, a win in Sunday's local elections will be a Pyrrhic victory. While his Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., will likely retain a majority of municipalities, Turkey as a whole, particularly as an international player, has lost. Erdogan victory puts icy Turkey-EU relations in deep freeze. EU calls on Turkey to step up reforms after Erdogan claims victory in local elections. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory for his party in local elections, and vowed that his enemies would "pay the price".

Everybody is competing to take the best selfie nowadays. A selfie is a kind of self-portrait photograph. The word "selfie" had become ordinary enough to take a place in the Oxford Dictionaries Online in 2013. Then in the same year, Oxford Dictionaries Online declared the word "selfie" its Word of the Year. The result of the local elections will be a clearer soon. This selfie will be showing what has changed since the Gezi protests in Turkey. We have to wait and see what the consequences will be and what will come next!

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