Ah, the selfie. The cultural phenomenon that emerged with the advent of the smartphone. Except that it didn't. Selfies have been around for much longer than that. For as long as humans have used cameras, paint brushes, even sticks and stones, they have made themselves the subject of their canvas. Cavemen took pains to carve their exploits into stone, rendering permanent the lives of an ancient race. Vincent Van Gogh found his own fiery visage suitable fare for his priceless brushstrokes. And 60 years ago former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell snapped a mirror shot that will surely enter into the annals of personal portraiture.
Mixed feelings about the selfie sensation
But the selfie is divisive. To some, it points to the self-absorption of a generation that can't seem to move past the allure of its own image. Critics of the selfie imagine a population looking in the mirror instead of the world around them. And perhaps that is partially true. After all, there are countless young people walking around training their camera lens on their face – risking harming their phone and landing in a cell phone repair shop just to get that perfect shot.
But to others, the selfie is more than just a preoccupation with the self. For actor, director and general student of life James Franco, it is a simple action with great artistic resonance.
"in a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you're feeling, where you are, what you're doing," Franco wrote in an op-ed piece for The New York Times.
So what is the selfie? Generational narcissism? Radical self-love? A plea for social acceptance? Or, perhaps, art? A new decision from Apple suggests that selfies might, in fact, have a higher cultural calling.
An important adjustment to the App Store
The App Store is about as good a barometer of cultural trends as any. So it should be seen as no small development that the Store has recently added a new category called "Sharing Selfies," according to PCMag. True to its title, the category provides an assemblage of apps that center around taking selfies and then sharing them with the world. This new category is a tacit acknowledgment of the growing popularity of the easiest means of self reflection that social media offers.
So far, there are only 12 apps in the category, Apple Insider reported. But that number could be on the incline now that it has its own category.
Check in to Part 2 to read about some of the cool selfie apps out there!