The word Selfie represents a generational divide, a single word evoking amusingly variant visualizations depending on the age of the person in pose.
GenXers, we started posing with friends, our partners, our parents to record a great moment on vacation, a birthday, a coming together after an absence. We look ok, we’re smiling, we’re getting the angle somewhat right, we step out of the way, almost embarrassed to be caught Mid-Selfie. Forget the damn Selfie stick, that’s offensive, vain and gets in the way of others in high traffic areas. Have you heard Disney banned them?
GenXers selfies are for ourselves and our friends, to remember, to help us reflect back over the last few years, because for the first time, we’re starting to forget details and we are still say, “remember that one time… in bandcamp?!?!?” Let’s hope not because if your friend finds one from bandcamp, where you look really awkward and have huge bangs… it’s getting posted on Facebook.
Baby Boomers, those gracefully making their Mid-60’s the new 45, are posing with their kids, their grandkids… maybe their spouse if they are as in love now as they were in high school. They might send a best friend a shot of a new haircut, their pedi, their vacation with a wish you were here! Their pets cutest moment of the day, adorable, wanna see? You’re getting it texted direct to your phone. Baby Boomers Selfie’s are not perfect, they aren’t meant to be and they don’t have to be. Their Selfies are for themselves, their family, best friend, moments in action in the present day.
It’s the GenZers that crack me up, I’ll call them the Snappers, because you “Snap” you know, you don’t “SnapChat.” Snappers have picked up the selfie stick and are running with it. Unfortunately, sometimes like lemmings, without looking, right over a cliff. Each photo looks perfect, youth on their side, wrinkles no where to be found, the absence of self conscience behavior on full display. Their selfies are for their self-affirmation and for their friends to flick past in a millisecond, in real time, to heart, like, love and validate. What… I’m a GenXer, what can I say, I’m now old enough Snappers represent “the kids these days.”
It’s Cognitive bias, each generation’s view of the next, thinking our way is the best. What was once “Excuse me, can you please take our picture?” on vacation, turned to “can you take our picture?” at brunch, and it’s now “Can you get out of our pic please?” on the sidewalk.
The constant for all the generations is that we love pictures of ourselves, especially if we’re having a skinny day or look beautiful, happy or in love in one. One thing I’ve started thinking lately, is that while Baby Boomers and GenXers have difficulty with the Selfie stick, we’re not fully in the loop on how kids see themselves these days. We heard stories of bullies on social media and we got stuck there. We’re missing the more subtle story of today.
Kids are sharing photos of themselves that they feel they look good in, they look beautiful in. They are not sharing photos of the perfect model in the magazine or actress in the movie. Let’s hope their understanding of beauty is more diverse and open than the one GenXers grew up with as a result. Let’s hope they see their own face as beautiful and appreciate the beauty in the diversity of their friends image. I did not see my own beauty till I turned 35 and that was only after I saw myself, the way my Husband sees me.
It will be fascinating to see, what will happen in the next generation or two with smart phone cameras, social media platforms and their ever evolving place in our lives. Will the next generation capture moments of positivity, of helping each other, of spreading a social movements and words that changes the world?
Time will tell as it always does and I await with my Husband to capture it all.
PS: My Husband is a professional photographer, so it comes with a small bit of irony, that our GenXer Selfies are often moments captured with a Canon 5D. A professional camera, large and unwieldy for a Selfie, yet my Husband somehow captured all my favorite Selfies this way. In these, I’m beautiful and happy because I’m in love. We found our best friend to Selfie all over the world with and that’s exactly what we’ll do.