Selfies: Self-indulgence or self-expression?

May 16, 2014

Civitas Media Staff

While most pop-culture trends are linked to a specific age-group, posting selfies — photos you take of yourself — has become a multigenerational communications instrument.

Selfies are photos taken at arm’s length or in a mirror, with a camera phone or digital camera and quickly posted to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram.

Selfies can show that you are out there celebrating life. The Pyramids and the Great Wall of China can form the backdrop. Or you can post 45 different views of your new hairstyle.

Selfie postings aren’t limited to teens and young adults. A Google search reveals selfies from popular musicians Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus to Pope Francis, shown grinning ear to ear with Palm Sunday worshippers at the Vatican, to Pres. Barack Obama taking a selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy. And of course there’s the tweet by Ellen DeGeneres pictured with several celebrities earlier this spring – the Oscar selfie that was re-tweeted three million times.

There’s even an online calculator that will rate the popularity of your selfie. Check out

“I know a lot of people are really taking it seriously,” said Dr. Paul Heintz, an industrial organizational psychologist and psychology/human sexuality professor at Edison College in southwestern Ohio. “This is a different media, a technique in order for teenagers especially, to create their self-image.”

Heintz also says that what would be “normal interaction” between a couple of close friends or family members, has become like “walking to the front of the classroom” to ask “How do you like my dress? How do you like my hair? My thought is as long as you don’t take it too seriously, it’s just an expression.”

Soon-to-be high school grad Rachel Zelnick says she’s always mindful of the selfies she and her friends post to social media.

“I don’t think a lot of people are aware of what other people can find” on the Internet,” Zelnick said. “A lot of youth think it’s not going to affect them. I’m conscience of what I post.”

Zelnick also said part of the “fun” of posting selfies is the fact that it’s not planned. “A group of friends get together to hang out and someone says ‘hey, let’s take a selfie.’”

Rick Cartwright, president of, in Dayton, Ohio cautions young people to “be smart” with their postings.

“Social Media is great, and many individuals use it to keep up with family and friends. When posting on online, it’s important to remember that what you post may be viewed by potential employers, educators, or others. Selfies are a lot of fun too, and there is nothing wrong with a fun picture. Just remember the rule still applies - if you post a pic of yourself a compromised situation, it too may be viewed by a potential employer. In general, anything you post online may live a long time, and even after you deleted it, the potential is there for it to be found. Be smart with your posting.”

Galion Inquirer Editor’s Note: Thank you to all those that sent in Selfies! This was a fun project! Congratulations to Natalee Perkins who received the most votes for her Selfie on our Facebook contest!