Photo via Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

On #NationalSelfieDay, what even is a selfie?

Words have meanings, dammit.


Jaya Saxena


Published Jun 21, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 1:59 pm CDT

We’re not here to argue about selfies. Some people love them, some think they’re single-handedly ruining our society, and most of us can agree that #NationalSelfieDay is pretty silly on an internet where people are posting selfies all the damn time. 

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Whatever. There are bigger things to worry about, like whether people even know what a selfie is. Because it appears there’s a lot of confusion.

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The word doing the heavy lifting in “selfie” is self, because a selfie is a photo that you take of yourself. Not just any photo of yourself, and not even a photo that you take after setting up the timer on your laptop. A selfie is a photo in which you’re simultaneously posing for a photo and holding the device which is taking said photo.

So, not these.

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A picture you take of your pet is not a selfie. A picture you take of someone else is not a selfie. An illustration of some random dude is not a selfie!!!!

It’s like words don’t even have meaning anymore. 

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We can see where people would get confused. A selfie being just any photo of yourself sounds intuitive, but that is called a portrait. It also seems a bit arbitrary as to why a photo taken with the use of a selfie stick would count, and one taken with a timer on a laptop or camera wouldn’t. 

But look, I don’t make the rules. A selfie is what a selfie is, and these are not selfies. If you’ve got a problem with that, take it up with Merriam-Webster.

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*First Published: Jun 21, 2016, 1:03 pm CDT