The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013 is “selfie.” It’s an informal noun (plural: selfies) defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
It is a word which used to be a hashtag, #selfie, as Flickr has it.
Before getting an unstoppable twitch, remember that only the Oxford Dictionary Online (O.D.O) offer “Word of the Year” awards, and this is NOT the Oxford English Dictionary (O.E.D.). Also, the US word of the year is different from the British word of the year.
In 2012, the US-ODO word was GIF, as in “GIFed a file, usually an image,” while the 2012 British ODO word of the year was omnishambles, which is “a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, and is characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.” I guess we could say, for instance, Chelsea Manning (aka Bradley Manning) was able to give WikiLeaks GIFed images of multiple omnishambles of US foreign policy.
Returning to selfies: they are everywhere and they tell us something about ourselves. We want to be seen. Our faces matter for that amount of time we are invested in ourselves. It does not say that we are more self-centered than at other times. It only says that if I spend time on myself, I want to be seen. Not heard. But seen. It may also say that I am my selfie, and who’s in my selfie suddenly may matter most.
That fame by visual association could be worrisome, because it is passive. A baby is seen with her mother. A baby is rarely seen alone. A drunk can be seen. An amputee can be seen. Anybody, except Dracula, can be seen in a mirror. A selfie is a mirror of sorts. TheMars Rover has taken a selfie. Kim Kardashian is the queen of selfies.
Ergo, it is more difficult to be heard. Or as below, watch it on mute.
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