When did online ‘selfies’ become cooler than who we are offline? Thoughts from a Gen Y

The dreaded ‘selfie.’ This little phrase has being flung far and wide for some time now, and no, it is not just our youth getting involved. Plenty of individuals who can no longer claim teendom are just as guilty of snapping their ‘duck faces’ on a consistent basis.

It is interesting to note, that for many, their ‘online’ self is actually favoured over their ‘offline’ self due to how much more control they have over their image on the internet.

Essentially we are looking down the barrel at a generation of people who have more control over their ‘self’ image online than ever before. They can delete unwanted photos, enhance pictures of themselves with Instagram filters and Photoshop, mask their true identity through anonymous blogs and appear even more intelligent and knowledgeable all the while using all of these created ‘assets’ create legions of online fans.

Here is a bit comedic relief well worth a watch – you may have seen this Instagram parody vid doing the rounds. 

As with any consumer trend, there have been a plethora of eager brands clamouring to grab a hold of it and use the concept of a ‘selfie’ in their latest digital endeavour. Let’s take a look at a few of the brands that have done just that.

Sportsgirl: ‘Share my Selfie’

 Sportsgirl is a young women’s street fashion label who were desperate to deepen their online engagement with their target audience. Given their target audience was already well versed in the ‘selfie’ behaviour it isn’t surprising they saw this as an opportunity.

The ‘Share my Selfie’ campaign requires users to upload a photo of themselves dressed in Sportsgirl clothing and hashtag #SGMEOHMY in the hopes of being the winner of vouchers to the store. The brand was obviously keen to utilise social platforms to raise awareness amongst their target audience and also paint themselves in an ‘edgy’ brand kind of light. By the way, this hashtag of #SGMEOHMY has now been used in excess of 3,400 times on Instagram.

Samsung: ‘Selfie’ pin board on the Opera House

 

Samsung effectively hi-jacked the opera house during April of this year to give their consumers the chance to make Sydney’s iconic Opera House their own personal ‘selfie’ pin board. The night coincided with the launch of the Galaxy S4 in Australia.

Australia’s Next Top Model: ‘The Ultimate Selfie’

 The connection here is pretty obvious right? Australia’s Next Top Model has asked the public to pucker up and send in their version of the ‘ultimate’ selfie to Instagram using the hastags #antmselfie and #fox8tv for a chance to appear in the Cosmopolitan magazine (link) and basically be treated like royalty at the show’s finale.

Jumping on trends is nothing new, but (insert thoughtful pause here), is it always appropriate? What culture exactly are these brands further enabling here? Selfies are not always about bright smiles and pretty faces, they definitely have their ‘darker’ side as well, with many young girls posting pictures of themselves wearing not much for the world to see.

At Zuni we are working on a 5 year project called Safe and Well Online with the Young and Well CRC in relation to youth and respectful behaviour online (insert link) and here is what one of our esteemed research partners, Dr Barbara Spears had to say:

“Selfies are the most common form of photo-taking by young people today and generally reflects either funny, friend or relationship moments posted online. In terms of presenting themselves online, however, they manipulate how they are seen by others, as they actively shape their online identity through the selfies they post: choosing only those images which make them seem attractive, sexy, funny, or popular. Using selfies as the basis for campaigns certainly reflects current youth practice, but may serve to promulgate the need for being seen as they want others to see them, rather than as whom they really are.”

So what ‘values’ for want of a better word are these brands encouraging their consumers to be involved in? There is nothing wrong with celebrating your looks, but this superficial roller coaster ride that taking incessant ‘selfies’ has become places ridiculous importance on how you look. Which more often than not, is not even how you really look.

How about celebrating your consumers unique abilities to draw, bike ride, dance, sing, skate, surf, run, swim and write? Our looks have got to be the most transient quality we as humans possess; the rest will stick with us for the long hall so aren’t they more important? This Gen Y would love to know what your thoughts are around selfies?

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