#Selfies

The rise of social media has been one of the most remarkable things to happen in the past ten years. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have redefined the way people connect and how businesses advertise. Within this revolution there is another sub phenomenon that exploded over the last 5 years; selfies. What is it? It’s the modern day self-portrait in the form of a photo. People who use to have other people take pictures for them can now do it themselves. The spread of front facing cameras through smartphones have made this trend available for both the youth and the elderly. People everywhere are taking a quick selfie of themselves; whether it’s on their way to class or visiting the Great Wall of China.

Selfies have been so ingrained into pop culture that it has completely captured the social media industry. It’s become impossible to scroll through a Facebook or Instagram feed without seeing somebody’s selfie. It’s not just social media either. There is a huge plethora of apps dedicated to selfies. The most famous is Snapchat. It’s an app that people use to send messages that are deleted immediately after they’re read. It’s become the catalyst for the spread of selfies across America. Just how big is Snapchat? Well it recently turned down a 3 billion dollar offer from Facebook. Of course, it’s not just social networking companies that are making big dollars from this trend. Photo editing tools have flooded the app stores. To “glamify” selfies people have turned to various photoshop programs and “Instagram filters”. Slapping a mayfair or lo-fi filter on a selfie is a quick easy way for people to add pop to their pictures. The purpose is to make the picture as fabulous as possible. It’s the same reason why people take pictures of their food. They want to show it to others as part of their social “resume”.

The word selfie has even officially entered the English language. The Oxford dictionary named selfie as the word of the year in 2013. In addition to becoming a part of the English dictionary, there are even songs made about it. The hit “song” #Selfie was one of the biggest of 2014. As of right now it has 300 million views on Youtube! There’s even an ABC comedy, albeit recently canceled, titled Selfie.

There is a famous phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan. He asks, “Why is this understanding of ‘the medium is the message’ particularly useful? We tend to notice changes – even slight changes (that unfortunately we often tend to discount in significance.) ‘The medium is the message’ tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium.” The medium is anything that has a profound social effect. It’s not the individual message that each selfie may hold, but how the “medium”, the selfie, has changed the way people think and act. It doesn’t matter if the person taking the selfie is in her car, or in a three star restaurant, but it’s how society reacts to being able to take and send selfies. Probably the most famous selfie ever taken is the picture above. It’s known as the “Oscar Selfie” and is one of the most heavily retweeted pictures in Twitter history. Since then it has spread like wildfire. Even president Obama was caught taking a selfies with world leaders.

Selfies are not just an American pop cultural trend. It’s global. It’s a trend that has no signs of slowing down. The selfie has become a type of photo that can be done by anybody who owns even the cheapest of smartphones. While many will say it’s an indicator of our narcissistic society, but it’s simply another way for people to show themselves to others.

Another Day, Another Hashtag

#TBT when my #MCM made me his #WCW

Say this to anyone who actively uses social media (which is like everyone right?) and they will most likely know exactly what you mean: #ThrowbackThursday when my #ManCrushMonday made me his #WomanCrushWednesday. Say this to your mom, she’ll probably think you’re crazy! TBT, MCM and WCW are all acronyms that have become quite popular hashtags these days on the social media scene. What started as #ThrowbackThursday, (TBT) became a different hashtag for each day of the week, used by millions worldwide.

weekday hashtags

So how did millions of people all over the world decide that they would all post the same thing, each day of the week.. How did this happen?!

When you think about it, this all started brewing back in the beginning of the millennium. With the booming popularity of cell phones, came the era of texting (which is now the most popular form of communication in the world.) And with texting, came acronyms (because let’s be honest ain’t nobody got time to write words out!) Texting acronyms have become very popular in today’s society, there’s a good chance even your mom knows that LOL means laughing out loud! According to an article “The History of Hashtags” on Twitter.about.com, the term “hashtag” wasn’t coined until 2007, and wasn’t widely popular until twitter made it so in 2009. Hashtags became even more popular when Twitter added the “Trending Topics” section where users could see popular hashtags being used most worldwide. Next came instagram, which launched in 2010, and now has over 150 million users, and has become one of the most widely used apps. Hashtags are also used on Instagram, allowing people all over the world to share pictures with one another and connect with other users who hashtag the same things.

Alright, so far our formula for weekday hashtags is: Texting Acronyms + Hashtags + Twitter/Instagram + ? = Weekday Hashtags

TBT_Mom

We know why it happened, but how did it actually happen? According to an article by Kate Knibbs on DigitalTrend.com, it all started with Throwback Thursday.  The orgin of this term is unknown and almost impossible to find out, people could have been using the term for decades. The first person to hashtag #throwbackthursday on Instagram was a man named Bobby Sanders in 2011. But I believe how this trend became a pop culture phenomenon is quite simple.   Just like almost every other trend in today’s society, the celebrities did it first, and the people followed. Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz’s “Two-Step Flow of Communication Theory” perfectly explains this. Though their theory is about the spreading of ideas, I believe it goes hand in hand with the spreading of trends. Trends appear on the mass media, but it isn’t until a celebrity or someone that people look up to follows these trends that they become popular with the general population. “The majority of people receive much of their information and are influenced by the media secondhand, through the personal influence of opinion leaders.” In 2012 Kim Kardashian started her series of Throwback Thursday pictures on Twitter and Instagram. She was one of the first known celebs to use the weekday hashtags, and just like everything else Kim K does, people followed. By 2013 it had become one of the most popularly used hashtags on Instagram. Over 268 million photos have been hashtagged #TBT on Instagram as of right now (yes, right now, I just checked.) The fact that the popularity of this trend can all be brought back to Kim Kardashian shows a lot about our society and how it runs. From what we do to what we wear and so on, we are very heavily influenced by the celebrities and other public figures in the media. Sometimes this can be a bad thing, but when it comes to the weekday hashtags I think it’s just a fun way for people all over the world to interact with each other. It gives people another reason to post something every day of the week, so in a society centered around social media we can’t be surprised this trend caught fire so quickly.

Throwback Thursday is simply when people post pictures from the past, it can be a photo from years ago or a few months ago. It is a chance for people to reminisce about old times via social media.

tbt_willy

The next weekday hashtags to come along were Man Crush Monday (MCM) and Woman Crush Wednesday (WCW). These days are a chance for users to post pictures of people they admire, whether it be their significant other or their favorite celebrity crush. These hashtags aren’t quite as popular as TBT, but they are definitely up and coming with over 175 million posts between the two.

MCM

Though those Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are the most popular weekday hashtags, the other days are not forgotten. There is Transformation Tuesday, where users post 2 photos side by side representing some type of transformation. For example someone who lost a lot of weight would post one picture of them before their weight loss next to a current picture of themselves and hashtag it #TransformationTuesday. Friday’s are Flashback Friday (FBF) which is the same concept as Throwback Thursday. Selfie Sunday is a new excuse for girls to post hundreds of selfies of themselves (as if they needed an excuse.) Another popular one for Sunday is #SundayFunday with 10 million posts. There aren’t any super popular hashtags for Saturdays, but I’m sure someone will think of one eventually! There is #Caturday for all of those in the cat loving community, or some girls post #SelfieSaturday.

Selfies

This trend is just another way for people on the internet to connect with each other, and is also just another excuse for people to post things. What started as something small is getting bigger and bigger every week. Though I’m sure it will die out eventually just like every other craze, I believe it will get bigger first. The latest Law & Order:SVU commercial on NBC has incorporated this trend. To me this says what stated as a fun social media fad, has become a part of society’s Pop Culture.