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Sweatpants & Humor | The Art of the Selfie

By Jon Ziegler

Consider the selfie—a self-taken picture of one’s self. When I was in my teens and twenties, there was no such thing as a selfie. That is not to say that no one ever turned a camera on themselves and took a picture, but film was expensive and there were no social apps requiring a constant profile pic update, so there weren’t enough selfies being taken to warrant a name for it. Today, there is not a soul on the planet who doesn’t know what a selfie is and few who have not taken one.

As a forty-eight-year-old father of two daughters, I am well acquainted with the selfie. And being a middle-aged male, a no-nonsense, outdoorsy, self-proclaimed he-man who spent most of his life as a tree trimmer, it is expected by society that I detest and bitch about all such monuments to vanity such as the selfie…but I don’t. I can’t. I love taking selfies.

It all started a few years ago when I accidentally took my first selfie. It happened while I was trying to figure out my new-fangled smartphone and its camera app. My clumsy fingers and lack of understanding how to operate the phone ended in my taking a picture of myself. The resulting photo made me laugh, and I titled it “What my phone sees when I’m using it.” The selfie seed had been planted.

My second selfie was intentional and was done in an effort to ridicule my daughter and her constant need for a new selfie to be posted on the walls of various social apps. I employed the use of the bathroom mirror, like my daughter, and made the same “kissy-face” that she often makes in her photos.

My second selfie taught me the importance of making sure of what’s in the background during a selfie taking session. My daughter was horrified at the inadvertent capturing of the toilet…well, horrified at the toilet and perhaps the fact that I had posted the picture in the comments section of one of her own Facebook selfies. Her irritation with my toilet selfie further kindled my new found love of the selfie.

My third selfie was actually taken with my daughter’s phone while she was using it as a mirror to straighten her hair (which I admit was clever of her in the absence of a real mirror). It was a selfie of opportunity. I simply walked up and hit the red button that would take the picture. The photo and her reaction were priceless, even in spite of having to give my daughter ten dollars to purchase and save it from being deleted from her phone.

I had now developed a passion for the selfie—a passion that was not motivated by vanity, but rather my own self-amusement.

As a tree trimmer, the “at work” selfies were a sure crowd pleaser…

… Unless you stop working to take one while your fellow workers are still working.

Spill taco sauce on your white shirt? Don’t get mad, take a selfie.

Find yourself fighting for space at the heat register during winter? Take a selfie.

Quality alone time with a good book? Selfie.

Even something as simple as your favorite cushy socks appearing in the clean laundry rotation deserves a selfie.

Selfies can even act as a tool. I took this one while giving my daughter a world class butt-chewing so that I could evaluate my delivery and effectiveness. However, the presence of the phone between her face and mine seemed to lesson my intimidation factor. Instead of cowering in fear, my daughter critiqued my selfie and ended up taking her own picture of me yelling at her to show me the correct angle for such a selfie. (She may have had a point, and it is her photo I have chosen to display).

There are limits to selfie taking. Some can be downright dangerous. Taking selfies with favorite pets is always popular, but first, find out if the demonic beast of a cat that you have chosen to take a selfie with actually likes having her picture taken (this particular selfie cost me a rather nasty scratch to the nose).

Taking a selfie while waiting for a tornado during a tornado warning is a good way to get killed…not so much killed by the tornado, but rather by your wife who is livid about you being in the front yard taking tornado selfies instead of being in the basement with her and the kids like you are supposed to be.

And selfies can be turned around and used against you by unruly daughters. It has become a sport in our house to steal Dad’s phone, and then use it to selfie the entire melee process of me trying to get it back.

I have expanded my selfie portfolio to include pieces that incorporate the use of Photoshop and other photo-altering apps. The selfie possibilities are endless.

Mock me all you want, but an art form with such an ability to show the human condition and all its complexities should not be limited to skinny teenage boys making fake gang signs and girls who think that mimicking a duck face is sultry. I’m taking back the selfie and claiming it for all mankind.

 

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