The first selfie I ever took was in college. It was way before the word selfie even existed and was taken with a camera which had film that needed to be developed. Imagine that? So when I was asked to talk about how old is too old to take a selfie, it really made me think. Is there an age limit to this new social media trend?
My first selfie on old-fashioned film was inspired by what might now be considered the grand dame of original selfies, Cindy Sherman. She's an American photographer who became famous for photographing herself in a range of costumes while assuming multiple roles and personalities. I loved this concept and decided to follow in her artistic footsteps for one of my first college art projects.
Fast forwarding to the here and now, everyone seems to be getting into the action. But it does raise an attention - grabbing question: Can anyone take a selfie or is there an age limit? Can you take too many selfies? These were some of the questions I was asked to ponder for a recent TV segment I did.
As a person who has proudly entered mid-life, I would never say there should be an age limit for selfies. I love the idea that people of any age, can take a photo of themselves to document a fun or special moment in their lives.
There is a pleasurable and spontaneous quality about selfies. It can reflect an intimate yet idealized image of one's self. It is an image that can alter how we see ourselves and our lives for the better and add humor to an all too dour moment. That piece of the "selfie" is great!
Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the selfie's rise in popularity. And of course, there are no limits to the photos you can take in order to achieve the perfect image. No film is wasted (like in the old days) and bad shots can be deleted just as quickly as they were taken. Once the perfect shot is achieved, Viola! You have a flawless, flattering image to share with the world.
But there is a potentially downside of this selfie trend, as I mentioned during my TV interview, and it is not so much a matter of age as it is a matter of appropriateness. Anything you put out in cyberspace sends a message about who you are and where your interests exist. Too many posted selfies can create a negative impact on others. It can come off as too self-centered, too needy, too braggadocios, and perhaps too desperate. While the selfies can be sent out hoping to create one type of impression, too many solo images can create the opposite effect, and send the message that your priorities are not where they should be.
So to manage the art of the selfie and not lose your friends or potential business associates, you may want to consider asking yourself the following questions:
What is your personal motivation for sharing this selfie?
Does it identify where your passions or interests are?
Are you looking for external validation?
Is the image too sexy for anyone and everyone to see?
Are you using the selfie as a form or creative self-expression and self exploration?
Are you more interested in documenting a life experience then having a life experience and are these worthy of publication?
And finally, are you posting too many selfies?
Good judgment is especially required for the last question!
Selfies allow both teens and adults alike to capture images which express their moods and share important experiences. The upside of the selfie is it allows us to provide self-portraits of how we want to be seen in life. But it's always wise to keep in mind, these images will be judged! It's best to be your own uber editor and present an image which advances yourself and your personal brand in the best possible and most refined light. Once you've assessed this honestly and intelligently, go ahead and snap away. And have some selfie-fulfilling fun while you're at it!
Follow Robi Ludwig, Psy.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/drrobiludwig