A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a smartphone or camera, that one can share on social media. The word “selfie” was first used in an Australian forum in 2002. In 2004, it was added to the Urban Dictionary. Selfies became popular after the advent of social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Self-portraits have been around since the early days of photography. In 1839, Robert Cornelius took the earliest known selfie. He exposed a sheet of light-sensitive paper in a camera for a few minutes, then removed it and developed the image.
The word “selfie” wasn’t coined until 2004, when it was used in an Australian online forum. In September of that year, a user posted a picture of his swollen lip, asking others if he should seek medical attention. He titled the post “Um, drunk at a mate’s place, tripped and hit me head on the stove. This is the result.” Another user responded: “I’ve seen a few bad self-portraits in my time but that’s a fugly one!” The thread was then titled “ugly selfies” and “fugly selfies.”
The word “selfie” began appearing on social media sites in the early 2010s. In 2012, Time magazine named “selfie” one of the year’s most popular words.
Selfies have been credited with helping people feel more comfortable in their own skin and boosting confidence. They’ve also been blamed for promoting narcissism and fueling the comparison culture.
In 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary added “selfie” to its database. The dictionary defines it as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or camera and shared via social media.”
In 2014, the term “ selfie stick” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The dictionary defines it as “a handheld extendable rod that can be used to take photographs of oneself (typically with a smartphone) at a distance greater than that which is achievable by holding the camera in one’s hand.”
In 2015, the word “selfie” was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Selfies have become a staple of social media culture. In 2017, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City included a selfie stick in its collection.
The rise of the selfie has also been associated with the rise of social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. In 2018, Snapchat announced that it was introducing a new feature called “Snapchat Lenses,” which would use facial recognition software to apply filters to users’ faces.
The word “selfie” has been used as a hashtag on social media platforms over 19 million times.