The selfie won’t soon fade

By Adam Earnheardt

YSU Communication Dept Chair

Selfies — those slightly blurred, self-portrait photos we take with front-facing cameras on our mobile devices — are here to stay.

Love them or hate them (or somewhere in between), it’s time to accept the selfie and establish some norms for their use.

Once thought to be an activity for only the “Me” generation, it seems people of all ages are getting in on the act. Some take selfies to connect with friends and family on social-networking sites.

Celebrities have embraced the selfie and use it to promote their brands.

Ellen DeGeneres famously snapped a selfie during the Oscars with a few friends, including Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts. Her tweet with the celeb-loaded photo generated more than 2 million retweets in less than three hours.

Companies are now catering to the selfie crowd. The popular app Snapchat was created almost exclusively for selfie-enthusiasts. To feed the selfie need, Sony released the new Xperia C3 phone, which includes 5-megapixel, front-facing camera with flash.

The Chainsmokers wrote a song titled “#selfie,” (yes, hashtag included) that was a hit on YouTube last year (warning: if you search for this video, it’s not kid-appropriate). Although the video is highly suggestive and glamorizes a clubgoing, binge-drinking, self-absorbed, 20-something lifestyle, it offers a glimpse into the fascination with selfies.

Recently, however, the selfie has been getting a bad rap. During the Tour de France, fans were attempting to snap selfies with cyclists. The only problem is that the cyclists were still on their bikes, in a race, going 40 mph.

MLS star Dom Dwyer of Sporting KC received a yellow card (i.e., penalty) for snapping a selfie with fans in the stands after scoring a goal. Conversely, James Rodriguez, star of the Colombian team, posted a selfie with thousands of fans behind him. That pic received more than 50,000 retweets.

Some norms for selfie use have been well-established:

  1. Don’t take naked selfies and send them to people (especially if you hold political office).
  2. When taking a selfie, make sure you’re in a safe place (avoid cliffs and busy intersections).
  3. Avoid the sexy pose. Most selfie poses are now considered out-of-style, including the wide-eyed, puckered-lip shots made famous by the “Jersey Shore” crew (also out-of-style).

But the sports-related selfies may now require new norms, and possibly some rules. For example, requiring fans to keep safe distances from athletes and celebrities has always been a rule. But resetting those boundaries for the selfie fan may be in order.

Conversely, there are new opportunities for sports teams, public-relations specialists, and those who manage athletes and celebrities to create better connections for fans.

Constructing better connections means letting the fans get closer to favorite athletes and celebrities — one selfie at a time.

Dr. Adam Earnheardt is chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and Facebook at

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