Why All The Selfies?

The other day in a faculty meeting, I snapped a low-angle selfie of myself in a frame that included my notes, a cup of berries, and the tip of a monstrously huge banana. From across the room, I heard a cackle of laughter from my colleague M. “Is that a selfie?!” he asked incredulously.

“It sure is!”, I answered happily as I reviewed it and sent it on its way.

Later M confronted me.  “What was that about?!”, he asked, delighted.

Years ago when I worked in Seattle, I used to text my friend C during faculty meetings. Usually snarky comments. When I moved to California, I tried to keep doing it; it’s even funnier to me now that we’re not in the same meeting… not even the same state.

I think M was surprised to hear this explanation. He seemed to find it reasonable, and it seemed it hadn’t occurred to him before that selfies could be used to subvert the authority of a faculty meeting. I think he had been expecting an answer that involved more vanity.

I was skeptical of selfies at first as well. Back in 2004 my sister had a Kyocera whose objective pivoted on a hinge to swing around and take selfies. Once I saw how happy my sister and I both looked, my vanity shame vanished.

A few years later, my sister and I made a trip with my mama to the Grand Canyon, who commented off-handedly that you can hardly be Asian anymore without taking selfies. She was talking specifically about selfie sticks. If you’re interested in selfie sticks, I think this one looks good.

I know some people still choke on the vanity of taking selfies. If I ask you to take one with me, here’s what I want you to know: I’m happy to be there with you, and I want to remember it. I don’t even care if the photo turns out fuzzy, if I forgot to smile, or if my chin is ballooning like a bullfrog.

On some days, difficult days, I find it useful to remember what I look like when I’m happy.

Also, sometimes I need to remember that I have friends.

If for whatever reason someone doesn’t want to take a selfie, or doesn’t want to see it, or doesn’t want me to post it, that’s fine with me.

Another very important reason that I take selfies is that I want my mama to see that I’m getting on a plane. Or that I’ve gotten dressed for work. Or that I’ve made it safely to my sister’s house. Those are for my mama. If people begrudge me for sending posting those, I don’t have much to say about that. Sometimes you’re just not the target audience.

Let’s now address the issue of vanity. Yes, I do take vanity selfies. Out of vanity. Because I’m vain. I know I’m not going to win any ribbons at the county fair, but if the lighting is right (as it is in the airplane bathroom), I think it’s ok for me to admire how I look once it a while, since nobody else seems to. My mama appreciates when I look better than normal, and if exes and enemies see that I’m surviving, there’s no harm in that. Also, not wanting to see yourself in a picture because you don’t look perfect is also a kind of vanity.

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Finally, #asiansquatbombs… I take those because it amuses me that colonizers often fall backwards onto their butts when they try it.

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