Saturday, March 24, 2018

Autism Answer: The Top Three Reasons I Take A Selfie (What About You?)

When my sons were little I took selfie-like pics of me with them often. Back then I didn't have access to digital pics or social media. So, I would take three or four in the hopes that one turned out alright ("alright" meaing that I captured the mood I was after and we don't look too unkempt, or - in the case of me personally - like a mean cackling witch) and then wait a month or two until I could afford to have the photos developed to find out how I did. In most cases, I threw away a few of these photos keeping only the ones I mostly liked for our photo album. (Back then a photo album was a physical thing. Boy, I'm old! tee hee!)

Anyway, now that I can use my phone to snap as many pics as I want at no extra cost while knowing how simple it is to delete the ones that don't work, I still sometimes take selfie-style photos with my son. Also, with my nieces and siblings and friends and my granddaughter! I love especially when I can capture the mood of our moments together! Some I share on social media, most I keep for myself and my family to scroll through when the moment calls for it.

But now, with my access to digital photos and social media, along with my new role of sometimes marketer, I also take a lot of selfies. Simply, a picture of me. Not only that, but I take pictures of myself to share with others. It feels weird, I admit, taking a bunch of pics of myself and then looking for the one that works. It's a little bit embarassing even, and I always look around furtively in hopes that no one will see me. So, why do I do it? 

Well, good question. I was wondering that myself! So I thought about it and discovered that these are the three most common reasons I take selfies. 

1) I'm Not A Good Enough Photographer To Capture Mood with Inanimate Objects

This one comes up mostly when I'm trying to get a good picture of a book. Books are freaking beautiful! They stir emotions and possiblity in me, and every time I'm reading a
Coffee and a book.
new one I want to share it with the world. Partly as a way to share book suggestions with followers and partly as a way to show folks what I'm reading so they can chime in with comments if they know the book or the author and have thoughts to share. But, now and then, I also try to get pics of other objecst that stir a mood in me. Headphones, pencils, coffee, etc. However, the mood stirred in me that I want to share I can rarely capture. Enter the selfie. It's easier for me to model the mood (while holding the book, wearing the headphones, nibbling the pencil, you get it) than it is to use lighting, props, and filters to create the image that evokes the feelings. So, the most common reason I take selfies is because I'm not a great photographer but I want badly to share something well. Hence, I put myself in the pic and model the mood and pose with the item (again, most often a book) because I don't - yet! - want badly enough to learn the skill of photography. 


2) I Want To Accompany My Words With An Image But I Don't Know The Rules 

I'll want to post a story or a thought, or I'll want to tell folks about one of my mom's books or shows or interviews, and I want to use an image to capture attention as well as add
Coffee and one of my mom's books!

personality to the post. But I don't know what the rules are exactly about copyright, privacy, etc. If I take a photo that includes a business logo or storefront, how much freedom do I have to post? If there is a person in the picture but I write a thought or opinion that goes against their values, is that fair? If I want to use photos from photo sharing sites, I often have to pay and always have to understand exactly what each copyright rule means and how to fairly use the image - creative commons, fair use, yadda yadda, I'm not confident I understand the meanings. So, I just take a photo of me or something I made. And then I give me permission to use it. 


3) I Think My Hair Looks Particularly Cool And Want It To Be Seen

Ya, that happens sometimes. Not often, but sometimes. I'll walk by a window, see my
Check out my hair!
reflection and think that my hair is looking pretty awesome. Then I'll notice for a moment that I live a very quiet life with not many people around. There's my hubby and my youngest son. Sometimes my brother stops by. But that's about it. I work from home and even the hours that I volunteer are mostly done on my computer. So, I'll take a selfie and post it! Admittedly, I don't say, "I think my hair looks cool," in the post, I almost always come up with something else to mention. Also, I don't sit around wondering if other people think my hair looks cool, that's not really the point. I just post and think, neat! I captured the cool way my hair is falling today! How fun! 

So, there we have it. The three most common reasons I take a selfie. I mainly wanted to share with you because I think it's fun. But also, I think it's valuable to take the time to notice what we do and why we do it. Also, selfies are far more common now than they were when I first started taking them with my 110 film cartridge. So I think it's a healthy excersise to consider our reasons. I hear people assume that it's to show off our awesome lives or to get attention by trying to look attractive and then hoping for likes and comments. Sure, some people probably do that some of the time. And if we catch ourselves doing that, serving images of ourselves and our activities up to the virutual world in hopes of some validation of sorts, well, we would do well to think about that. Maybe make a change. I don't think that's safe or healthy. 

But I think a great many of us take selfies (and share our lives, our opinions, our talents) for such a wide variety of reasons that it's worth thinking about. 

In fact, today is an important day with a small tie-in, I think. While I'm writing a silly fun post about taking pictures of myself, millions of people are marching around the world with the intention of changing American gun laws. This important movement (which, full disclosure, I support) was largely started by a traumatized group of teens from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, recent victim of a mass shooting. 

Now, these young people have been outspoken, well organized, and clear of message from the beginning. There are, of course, many reasons why these students have been capable of
Wondering about what we do and why we do it, for our grandchildren.
speaking with strength and clarity, but I'm quite sure one of the reasons they are comfortable speaking on camera and able to market their message well is, well, the selfie-style time they are growing up in. Taking a video of yourself and posting it online, with the possiblitiy of who knows how many seeing it, is how they're growing up. Taking a picture of yourself and then posting it - for reasons healthy and un - is how they've grown up. Hashtagging to find a target audience, and also to create a memorable meaningful slogan, is how they've grown up. And, sadly, school shooter drills is, too. So the successful turnout and attention of this weekend's  #MarchForOurLives is probably in part due to the selfie generation taking the time to think about the reasons for selfies. And, of course, due to the fact that it's a just cause to march for. 

So, I wanted to write about why I take selfies because it's fun. But also, as it is with most things, there is something valuable in it. 

Do you ever take selfies? 
If so, do you share them? 
With your family or on social media? 

Have you every wondered?
It might be a good thing to know.  

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)