Thursday, April 24, 2014

The #Selfie: key to communication in a world of pure text?

A founding principle of the Camera always was that someone else should take a photograph of you. It kind of meant you had to be worthy of photographing. Once upon a time people paid a price per photograph and had to have these photographs developed. The result was that people were picky about things. A photograph of you was likely to be a good photograph.

In the digital world we communicate by Text. We live in surreal times when people can have never met, yet are known to others. In old times, with the printing press authors and scientists became known of: famous, infamous, noted. For me it is a strange reality that the internet has caused us to know others, and be known by others we will never ever meet. According to Google, my Google Plus profile will have had 500 000 (Five Hundred Thousand) views, mostly by people who have never met me in person no doubt: I am on 498,946 views currently. Perhaps from people who liked what I have said, and perhaps from the curious, or from people who dislike my perspectives. Yet, either way, I have played some role in lives of people I don't know from any other person I also don't know. We live in a world where one person can communicate to millions, and yet not have their life change much for that.

How do these people know that I am real? Generally the fact I have photographs up on social networks might help. Are they photographs of myself: yes... but perhaps the consistency of photographs being the same person helps. A famous blogger in the middle east turned out to be the machination of a government intelligence network of one of the world's nations recently. A picture was stolen from a Facebook and became the respected voice of many journalists. It was a non-existent voice.

The selfie seems to build upon the gap of text. Like an icon or avatar of old, it seems to turn text into humankind. Perhaps you looked at my picture as I wrote. Maybe you decided based upon my appearance whether you want to listen to my voice.

The other side is self obsession. Everyone can speak on social networks. Everyone is given a platform. This is where trolls emerge and prowl where only rich trolls once were able to hunt. This is a world where people commit suicide because of words said online. This is a world where every person carries a camera, and is deemed a photographer. When people are able to speak, those who are vain are able to speak almost solely of their own self and their alleged view that they are more worthy than those around their self.

My answer to selfies tends to be this: I look much better when someone takes a photograph of me, than when I awkwardly attempt to myself take of a photograph of myself. I prefer to ask another person to photograph me. The photo tends to be better than if it were a self portrait. Make no mistake, I love photography. I used to take and I used to develop photographs, and I still enjoy to film the world. Yet, I prefer if others photograph my self.

That said, there are some amazing self portraits in history, from Van Gogh, to a pretty celebrity, who is smart enough not to look like she is holding the camera. Are selfies essential to online communication, or are pictures? Some people I respect the view of neither have a picture nor show their identity whatsoever.

Either way, text and photographs and videos, and 3d and high resolution, and virtual reality are all no analogue to real life communication.

We live in a real world, with the advantage of digital communication.

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