Student Voice


June 12, 2024


‘Selfie’ named word of year

November 21, 2013

Looking through the NBC News app on my phone I came across an article titled, “Oxford Dictionaries names ‘selfie’ word of the year.”

The title basically says it all: the world “selfie” was named Oxford Dictionaries International Word of the Year, beating out “binge-watch,” which is the practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, and “twerk,” which, thanks to Miley Cyrus, we all know means basically shaking your rear end.

These words, which were once gibberish and nonsense, are now legit words that have actually ended up in the dictionary. For those of you who do not know what a “selfie” is (but I’m guessing you all do), a selfie is defined by Oxford Dictionary as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically are taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

Let’s face it, whether we are going to admit to it or not, we have all taken our fair share of selfies; whether they are taken with friends, pets or be one of those glorious bathroom mirror selfies. Right now selfies are a way of life, especially now that more and more of us are breaking down and making an Instagram account.

For some reason we are fascinated with our phone’s front-facing camera’s ability to take the perfect pictures of ourselves. We then put them on Facebook or Instagram with a cute caption, such as “Me and my bestie!,” “Long hair don’t care!,” or my favorite, writing an inspirational quote that has absolutely nothing to do with the picture.

Now, I’m not saying that I have not been guilty of taking selfies here and there, but I do not think I will ever understand the obsession of continuously documenting what we look like, sometimes multiple times a day.

Is it because our generation is so unbelievably vain? Have we become so obsessed with ourselves that we have taken it upon ourselves to document everything we do and what we are wearing each day? In a way, yes, but I do not think it is a generation thing.

Since we were pre-teens, people from older generations have told us that our generation is the worst generation and that they will never understand us. But my question is, hasn’t every new generation been told that they were the worst generation by the generation before them?

Those darn kids and their protests for equal rights. Those darn kids and their rock and roll. Those darn kids and their selfies. Aren’t these statements saying the same thing? There is no doubt that when we are old and gray we will be shaking our heads, saying, “Those darn kids and their holograms.”

With each year that passes the world changes, both with new ideas and new technologies, and with that we change as well. We have grown up differently and with front-facing cameras of course we are going to take selfies that are misunderstood by the generations before us.

Every year there will be new, gibberish-sounding words that make it in the dictionary that made no sense to us just the year before. We look down on those youngsters and the iPhones they received when they were in fifth grade, and say, “My first cell phone was a flip phone, and now these kids are getting iPhones before they can even spell correctly.”

The world changes every day, with new technologies and fads that sometimes just do not make sense at all. So maybe we are a little more vain, but is that so bad? We are just taking what we are given and doing what we want with it which in this case front-facing cameras and the entire internet to cover with selfies is what we were given.

Natalie Howell is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during the 2016-2017 academic year.