One of the “new” words of last year in media was “SELFIES”, even though most of us have heard about these and even participated in them multiple times over the last years. The growing of different social media platforms such as Instagram and Flickr has given us new opportunity to promote ourselves, and share ourselves with the world. A quick look at Wikipedia tells us that
“A selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often associated with social networking. They are often casual, are typically taken either with a camera held at arm’s length or in a mirror, and typically include either only the photographer or the photographer and as many people as can be in focus.”
It has been a common belief that this was something the mostly the younger generations were involved in, and this last week I’ve read three different articles from adults that are worried what the young girls and boys are getting themselves into. One of the authors of the mentioned articles ask what is wrong with the young people today, saying that when she grew up, (in the 70s like myself) the goal was to wrap yourself in big sweaters and agree with other youths, while today’s youth have a “look – at-me-mentality” and the selfies are the result of the selfishness of young people.
I beg to disagree. First of all, a quick look through social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram shows me that it is not only young people doing selfies, everybody from grandpa to young children are portrayed in these kinds of photos, and we cannot assume that all these people are selfish? Bye the way, who said that selfies is a new activity? The word may be new, but the act of putting a picture of you out there, is far from new.
Because, feel free to disagree, but isn’t a selfie just a modern self-portrait?
Today I’ve read a book on the great Norwegian artist Christian Krohg. Before I read this book, written by Oscar Tue, I knew that Krohg was one of our great artists and he wrote the book and painted the painting of “Albertine”, but I realize that he was a colourful man with a lot of initiative. He had a great social concience, and his book was banned the same day it was published.
And I also learned that he was one of the artists that painted most paintings portraying himself that we know of. Of course, Edward Munch did this more often than anyone, even Christian Krohg, but I was amazed to see the amount of self-portraits Krohg painted.
Together with the titles of his paintings, the artist leaves no mystery to solve for his audience. He is painting his view of himself, and it is clear that he is telling his story, the way he wants to be portrayed.
When I look at all these paintings I see a man who loved painting, and especially when I see him sitting there with his pallet. I also see a man who liked being in the centre of attention and admired by his audience.
When he’s walking in and out of his favourite café and the social centre of his time, he’s telling us that he is a man of the world, and he’s right there, in the spotlight.
Then again, later in life, he is showing his knowledge that times running up, he is getting older, and he is showing his lack of youth trough his paintings. Especially the painting where he is sitting in front of a wall-clock, I find sad, and almost naïve. It’s hard to see through my photo of the painting, but the clock is showing almost midnight…
So, I think that the selfies we see today in our social media are only the beginning. Yes, they might be a sign of our “look-at-me” society, and no, we won’t stop taking these photos. The fact is that bye taking selfies people of today are leaving their marks. Not everyone can be great artists, and write or paint their way into history. But everyone can use their smartphone… And create the illusion of being part of the history.