Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Birthing the Selfie

In a moment of entirely unwarranted linguistic hubris and Internet narcissism, I am going to announce here that I am the doctor giving birth to the neologism selfie. The progressive mood ("giving") is important because in spite of what follows below it is not at all clear that this neologism will stick around (though I tend to think it will).

It is entirely unwarranted for me to declare myself the midwife of this (or probably any other) neologism because I am, I'm sure, quite late to the game. The word selfie first came to my attention just a few days ago, but it has since bombarded me with its annoying currency:

1) iPad "mirrors" allow celebrities to take selfies at various celebrity events.

2) President Obama, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, created a minor diplomatic hubbub with their selfie at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. Their smiling faces seemed inappropriate to some, given the occasion (though would Mandela really mind if people smiled and chatted during his memorial service?). In addition, the First Lady seems a bit left out (her choice?) due to an unfortunate camera angle (oh, the travails of being bound in matrimony to the multimillionaire leader of the free world).

"Hi fans! Hanging with my peeps here in South Africa. And Michelle."
(Editor's note: This is clearly NOT the official White House caption.)

All right, so two examples are clearly sufficient to justify my use of the word "bombarded" as to the frequency with which I have stumbled across this new word. And now that I think of it, given the nature of the topic, I suppose my linguistic hubris and Internet narcissism are perfectly legitimate as well.