By Hillary Fisher
Online Managing Editor
I feel watched during chapel and, no, not by my chapel checker. This semester my chapel seat is positioned several rows behind someone whose outstretched arm is always grasping an iPhone. I’m not sure why I feel watched, because clearly the user isn’t trying to spy behind her. Instead, she’s perfecting her self-portrait. But from the lifted-up screen I can see her various attempts: pre-chapel scrunchy face, worship-time scrunchy face, chapel-message scrunchy face. Snap. Snap. Snap.
I wish I could say I’m the only one distracted by this, but after asking around and perusing #chapeltweets, it appears there are multiple chapel snappers and multiple other students who are annoyed by it.
Surely the recipients of these images must find the consistent wooden chair backdrop interesting.
Selfies, smartphone self-portraits, are the latest in line of our self-portrait efforts. In ancient times, Myspace users took their profile default pictures with their cameras pointed directly at their bathroom mirrors. The flash bouncing off the mirror added a special effect.
The addition of the front-facing camera to the iPhone 4 in 2010 revolutionized mobile picture taking. Self-portraits could be taken anywhere at any time. Bathroom mirrors returned to their original tasks, like being there for someone who has lettuce in their teeth.
With the front-facing camera came the rise of image and video sharing applications like Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. Snapchat, an app that allows users to send pictures to others that quickly vanish after an allotted amount of time, particularly lends itself to selfies.
Snapchat is currently the app store’s ninth most popular free app. According to analytics firm Onavo, 20.8 percent of all American iPhone users use Snapchat compared to Instagram’s 38.3 percent and Vine’s 12.8 percent.
According to Snapchat’s blog, over 200 million snapchats are sent each day, many of which are selfies. The selfie has changed the way we interact. Instead of using words to convey a message, we send an image of our expression.
After all, isn’t a picture worth a thousand words?
I got Snapchat this summer to better understand my coworkers at my summer job. During our breaks in the lifeguarding office, we’d talk about a variety of topics. In any given conversation, one of my fellow guards wouldn’t respond when prompted by a question. Almost every time, the person didn’t answer because he or she was taking a selfie. Ironically, these selfies were often sent to the very people who they were conversing with in person in the guard office.
Now that I’m back at Asbury, I can’t say that my interactions with others are that different from those back in the Westmonte guard office. Recently in a group project, one of my team members stopped talking. When we all looked up, she was making several faces at her mobile device. Moments later I had received a snapchat from her complete with a silly face and accompanying words.
Even though selfies are frivolous in nature, they are contagiously fun. We all know they’re goofy, but we can’t help but send 25 different expressions to our best friends. Selfies are changing the way we interact, and it seems there are few places where we can pause, put the phone down and look ahead. But perhaps we should.