When I go through social media sites, the endless posts of self-taken pictures, otherwise known as "selfies," never cease to amaze me. You've seen them, those photographs almost always taken with a smartphone by the person appearing in the picture, their arm outreached in front of them (or, in the more salacious ones, behind them!), possibly standing in front of a mirror with the phone clearly visible.
These pics are plastered all over the usual suspected sites -- Facebook, Adam4Adam, Manhunt and Grindr -- but now we have Guys With iPhones, Guys in Sweatpants and, if given enough time, I'm sure, Guys With iPhones Wearing Sweatpants and Playing With Honey Badgers.
In today's visual, cyber world, where meeting someone through an online dating site is the equivalent of catalogue shopping, more and more people are leaving pride and better judgment behind and diving head-first into the waters of narcissism and "no they didn't!"
Here are five easy steps I offer up to you when you have a camera phone, time on your hands and an overreaching ego.
1. Say "cheese!"
You know the phrase, "You're your own worst enemy"? Well, dare I add, "You're your own worst photographer." What you need is a second pair of eyes, a trusted friend to tell you when your mug resembles the title character in Throw Mama From the Train or, even worse, Zoolander. Now, if you're needing a bit of privacy because your photo calls for a more "compromising position" where the caption might read, "This end up," invest in a tripod, or, at the very least, prop up your damn phone on a book. There are a number of apps with a time-delayed flash. Yes, it might take more time, but don't act like you don't already go through 20 pictures to get the "right one" (which is inevitably the wrong one).
2. Strike a pose.
A legion of gay men have been led astray by Tyra Banks and America's Next Top Model. All those selfies of guys pursing their lips and smizing (that is, smiling with one's eyes) doesn't make them look like a supermodel of the world but a crazed, legally blind blow-up doll. In other pics, what is meant to be an effortless, "why, I always look like this" pose comes off more like an ad campaign for Ripley's Believe It or Not. You know the ones, the pics where the guy's bearing down so hard to flex a nonexistent muscle that his eyes are bulging out of his head and his colon is about to explode through the floor. No one in a picture who was clearly trying too hard has ever made me hard. Less is more, people.
3. Lighting is everything.
Lighting can make or break your photo. In good lighting I look like Jon Hamm. In bad lighting I look like Boar's Head ham. When you're taking a selfie in front of your bathroom mirror or in your gym locker room under the apocalyptic rays of fluorescent light, you're doomed to look like Old Mother Hubbard. What you want is downward lighting where every roll looks like a rippling muscle and every blemish a beauty mark.
4. Location, location, location.
We've all seen the endless array of locker-room selfies and bedroom selfies, and I swear to God I've even seen a frozen-food-section selfie. Where you are physically in a picture that you've chosen to take of yourself, by yourself, says a lot about who you are. If it's in your home, clean the place up! It's not a compliment when someone mistakes your selfie for an audition picture for Hoarders. If it's in your bathroom, clean off the shelves! We don't need to see what toothpaste or wrinkle cream you use. And while you're at it, forego the exotic. We don't need to see you being "sexy" at the zoo. The same goes for driving in your car or at your nephew's bris.
5. Click, click, flash, delete.
Last but not least, possibly the best piece of selfie-posting advice I could give would be: Enough already! No one, not even your own mother (especially with the "slutacious" content posted out there), wants to see a constant stream of pictures where the only subject is you. You really don't need to capture an image of yourself every time you fart, belch or blink. So next time you feel the need to let the world know what you look like in that particular moment in time, put the camera down, for in the words of Jesus Christ, "No one cares."
A version of this blog post previously appeared on Queerty.com.
Follow John Carroll on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MrJohnCarroll