"I like my outfit today" kind of selfie. Photograph/Kate Pierce
Celebrities love to do it just about anywhere. Working professionals do it while they’re driving to the office. College students find themselves doing it in all sorts of strange places. Stay-at-home moms tend to do it with their kids in the room.
While the location and time of day varies from person to person, it would seem everyone is doing it.
Taking “selfies” — pictures of yourself with a smartphone or other device and an outstretched arm — has become the latest “it” thing.
The word itself has been named “word of the year” by Oxford Dictionaries.
A noun, selfie is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
According to Oxford Dictionaries, use of the word has increased 17,000 percent since this time last year.
The actual act of taking selfies seems to have increased exponentially as well.
Johnson City resident Kate Pierce says she posts selfies to her social media sites three to five times a week.
“Where it has become so common, it’s easy to post a lot of selfies,” Pierce says. “I take them if I’m doing something interesting, like on a hike or traveling somewhere.”
Pierce uses her iPhone to take most of her selfies and she posts them most frequently to her Tumblr and Instagram accounts.
She also enjoys looking at other people’s selfies, which sometimes even inspire her style of dress.
“In fashion magazines, most of the women are 5-foot-9-inches and a size 2,” she explains. “With people’s selfies, you can see how a certain style looks on someone that isn’t a supermodel.”
For others, taking selfies is a way to pass the time.
Suzy Donaldson submitted a selfie that she took while “playing with my husband’s iPad while riding in the car.” She upped the ante by using an app on the tablet that caused her face to look comically disfigured.
“I think the app is called Photo Booth,” Donaldson writes. “Ha. I never looked better.”
Even local television anchors seem to be getting in on the selfie action. WJHL news anchor Sara Diamond submitted what she called a “delfie,” featuring herself and co-anchor Josh Smith on the news desk.
The term is a combination of selfie and duck-face, the popular facial pose featuring a person’s pursed lips.
“Josh and I tried a delfie,” Diamond notes. “It doesn’t come naturally to either one of us!”
A self-professed “social media butterfly,” 23-year-old Sarah Kinsler says she loves a good selfie.
“I think they are fun and a great way to say, ‘Hey, I changed my hair’ or just to express yourself,” she said.
But, Kinsler points out, there are rules to what she calls “this selfie game.”
“Some people really get into selfies and post way too many. Selfies shouldn’t be an everyday thing,” she notes. “I think that is what gives selfies a bad name.
“There is nothing newsworthy or entertaining about a repetitive self-portrait. If you only post one every once (in a while) it’s fine, but the everyday offenders are ruining it for everyone.”
Kinsler, a marketing associate at the local marketing firm Marketing MEL, has even come up with a few rules she considers crucial to appropriate selfie behavior.
“Get out of your bathroom,” she says. “The selfie should be exciting and let’s get real — nothing exciting happens in the bathroom.”
Make sure your background isn’t a messy house and include someone else — perhaps a friend, your pet or one of your children — in the selfie.
“This makes it more fun,” Kinsler says, “and not so ‘look at me.’”