The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News last week:
Pope Francis took one. So did Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton. Michelle Obama snapped one with her dog. And of course, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have been over-devoted practitioners. Justin Bieber even created a website for it.
We’re talking selfies — a digital self-portrait shared through social media — which Oxford Dictionaries selected as its word of the year. After Oxford University Press made the announcement, the Mars Rover took a selfie and sent it back to Earth.
Not only have selfies become ubiquitous in these days of Instagram and Twitter, but selfie is one of those rare words that encapsulate a society at a specific moment. It is the word of our times, a reflection both of who we’ve become — increasingly narcissistic and insular — and how we got there. With such growing narcissism and insularity, is it any wonder then that civility is fading, that the people who operate our institutions seem unable to meaningfully engage in dialogue, much less compromise?
Oxford traces the earliest known use of selfie to a photo taken by an Australian man who drunkenly tripped and busted his lip, then posted the photo and the story on Sept. 13, 2002, in an Australian Internet chat room.
“Sorry about the focus,” he wrote about the photo. “It was a selfie.”
With all due respect to the learned folks at Oxford, perhaps the roots go back even further. Just try substituting an sh for the e at the end of the word.
Copyright the Dallas Morning News
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