The selfie solution

Photographic self-portraits under scrutiny

From its birth in the 19th century, to the hustle and bustle of the modern era, the selfie as we know it has undergone change.

According to the Huffington Post, Robert Cornelius, an amateurphotographer from Philadelphia, PA, is believed to have taken the first photographic self-portrait in 1839.

In those days, the process involved standing in front of a camera for multiple minutes simply to take one slightly blurred picture.

Nowadays, instead of spending 15 minutes on one photo like Cornelius, hip aficionados can easily snap 100 self-portraits in half the time.

Daniel Cummings, an electrical engineering technology student at SAIT, said he believes the increasing number of selfies is due to the ability to see oneself while taking the photo.

“We can make sure it’s the perfect picture with the perfect pose while we’re taking it. We’re all vain, so who doesn’t want the perfect picture,” said Cummings.

Instead of the selfie itself being a quite rigorous and lengthy process, enthusiasts have had to discover different, and often more dangerous, ways to stand out from the crowd.

While scrolling through Instagram, you will likely see several thousand selfies, and the majority will include a duck face combined with a 45-degree tilt of the noodle.

But the ones that you remember likely include something out of the ordinary. Perhaps they are holding a best-selling novel or they will snap a photo of their face while bouncing on a trampoline.

You may also come across tasteless selfie photos taken at funerals, serious historical sites or even in front of tragic accidents.

Clearly these examples are taboo, but where is the line drawn? And when does a selfie become needlessly dangerous?

On Feb. 28, a man from Washington state was killed after shooting himself while taking a selfie with a loaded gun. The incident is being investigated as an accident.

This isn’t the first time tragedy has struck while someone was simply trying to take a flattering photo.

An article from Sep. 22, 2015, on The Telegraph, an online newspaper from London, England, states that selfies are actually more dangerous than sharks, with a reported 12 deaths from selfies that year compared to only eight from shark attacks.

We all know that we should be cautious around sharks, but clearly people should also be more cautious with their selfies.

Due to the number of selfie-related deaths, Russian police launched a campaign in 2015, called “Safe Selfies.”

The campaign suggests that those who wish to pose for a selfie should avoid doing so on top of tall buildings, in front of wild animals, on train tracks or with a loaded gun, to name a few.

Obviously times have changed since Cornelius took his selfie, but we shouldn’t need a guide on when it is and isn’t appropriate.

Taylor Richer, a nuclear medicine technology student at SAIT, said taking selfies while there is the possibility of inconveniencing someone is inconsiderate.

According to her, people who often take selfies do so out of a “need to receive gratitude,” from others.

However, that isn’t to say that you should never take a selfie.

For example, if you find yourself snapping a photo for a contest, like the recent SAIT Polytechnic’s Student Selfie Contest to commemorate the school’s centennial year, that’s fine. In fact, it’s encouraged.

Or if you take them to help keep in contact with a spouse or friends who live on the other side of the planet, that’s okay.

Even just feeling silly and wanting to suck in your cheeks while crossing your eyes is a perfectly good reason to take a photo of yourself.

But Cummings believes there is also a limit to the number of selfies one should take.

“You have to sneak in some pictures taken by other people every once in a while.”

Therefore, the selfie itself isn’t the issue. The issue is the ease with which selfies are taken.

Perhaps it was better in the times of Cornelius, when capturing a single photo took 15 minutes.

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