Everyday I see college students taking pictures of themselves: in class, in the cafeteria, and in the library. Sometimes they smile, other times they pout, make kissy faces, or stick out their tongues like Miley Cyrus. What are these students doing? They are taking selfies, or pictures of themselves that they also photograph. This is the more modern version of standing in front of a mirror and using a digital camera to capture the reflection, and the more portable version of using a computer camera to take pictures. Now no mirror is needed.  Many smart phones have forward-facing cameras, so one can see one’s own face as the picture is taken.

Photo courtesy of Popdust.

Recently, however, even selfies have been modernized. The smart phone app called Snapchat allows users to take photos and videos, add text and drawing to the media, and then send them to others. The app lends itself perfectly to selfies because once the pictures are received, they delete within ten seconds. Therefore, people often send pictures of themselves doing weird things, such as eating spaghetti or brushing their teeth.

The idea of people photographing only themselves may seem ridiculous. Taking pictures is normally a way to preserve memories. Photographs are often a part of family vacations, milestone events, or even hang outs with close friends.  A bystander takes the picture so the whole group can be in the shot. When someone is in a picture alone, the photograph is usually still taken by someone else, because the background might be historically important or beautiful.

When someone takes a selfie, there is usually no background or other people in the picture. The idea is simply to photograph the face. By taking a selfie, a person is implying that their image is more important than anything else going on.  Selfies can be seen as very self-absorbed.

However, this view is a bit harsh. In reality, these images do have meaning. Selfies can be understood as modern-day portraits.  Oftentimes one facial expression—regardless of the background or other subjects—is all that is needed to tell a story about an experience. Selfies are an essential part of safeguarding memories because how one looks and feels reflects one’s current environment.

As college students, every experience, from the normal to the crazy, is better when shared with our friends. Snapchat is a great way to tell friends you are drowning in math homework or that the concert is completely wild. A selfie, especially with a hilarious caption, is all friends need to see to understand how you are feeling. It is quick, fun, and easy for both the sender and the receiver.

Snapchat is not the only app that runs solely on pictures. Instagram is an online photo-sharing site where users take pictures and apply filters to the pictures. The pictures can then be shared on social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. An obvious pro to this site is the filters. If someone takes a selfie, they can add a filter to the image to make it prettier, edgier, more old-fashioned-looking, or more modern-looking.

Instagram serves a different purpose than Snapchat. On Instagram, the whole point of the filters is to enhance the images before broadcasting them on social networking sites.  A large audience sees these pictures, so users want their photographs to look good. While the pictures taken on Snapchat may not be as attractive as the Instagram photos, Instagram lacks a communication aspect, which is Snapchat’s biggest advantage.

College students are always in contact with one other.  Like texting, Snapchat is another way students can be in touch with friends, no matter if they are in a different dorm room, college, or country.  Snapchat is an effective mode of communication—maybe even more effective than texting, because the receiver can see your face with your caption.  Connotations are easier to pick up on. While Snapchat is not going to replace texting, perhaps the app will replace the need for emoticons.

Whatever the future may hold for both these apps, it is clear that taking pictures on smart phones, rather than cameras, is becoming more and more popular. Happy Snapping and Instagramming!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.