Me, Myself, and My Selfie

selfiemainCinema may be the outstanding art form of the 20th century, but in the 21st, the pinnacle of creative expression could emerge as something entirely different: the selfie.

Recently, I was standing in line at the grocery store behind a woman and her two tween daughters. "I'm bored," whispered one girl. "Let's do one for Facebook." And before you could say "Instagram," the girl pouted into the lens -- one hand holding her iPhone camera aloft, the other hand on her hip -- and snapped. Her sister posed alongside with a similarly two-lipped pout, eyebrows raised and head cocked quizzically to the side.

For a generation raised on mantras of self-esteem, I suppose framing pictures at arm's length and striking a heroic, sultry or brooding pose to share with the world must come naturally. From Justin Bieber and Madonna to teens and adults everywhere, the self-portrait photo has become a social media staple and cultural marker of our time. The word "selfie" is now a part of mainstream vocabulary (there's even a new Wikipedia entry), conjuring up images of Myspace-style angles, "duck" faces, and peace signs reflected in dirty bathroom mirrors. Psychologists and sociologists argue that the selfie craze stems not only from technology, but from the drive for self-expression and identity experimentation among users.

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