A word about Selfies

The science of the evolution of words is a deeply fascinating and curious thing. So fascinating and curious that author Nick Earls took the idea of etymology and fashioned it into not one, not two but three amazing adventure books for kids. But (lots) more on that another day...

The concept of word play and word origin is equally as absorbing for writers as for readers and led me to ponder on the development of the word 'selfie'.

Selfie: a picture of a person taken by that person. (usually badly if that person's name is Dimity)

How did the term 'self-portrait photograph' become reduced to such a bland, throw away two syllable text term? When did we become a race of need-it-yesterday, don't-have-time-to-speak-full-words narcissistic androids? And if we are that desperate for a shot of our own mugs, what is wrong with using a tripod or the old fashioned method of accosting a complete stranger and risking camera abduction in the name of getting behind the lens. I find these methods much more reliable and guaranteed of much less double-chinned, bulging shoulder shots.

Reflecting on my own appalling selfie attempts led me down another track of 'selfs'; the ones us author types use with abundant gay abandon in our everyday working lives. Here are a few that come to mind:

  • self-doubt (constant bed buddy, closest observer of your work)
  • self-loathing (nasty rash-like feeling you get from sleeping with the above)
  • self-appreciation (fleeting minuscule moments of happiness when words work)
  • self-appraisal (that which keeps you awake at night, when self-doubt rolls over to the other side)
  • self-edit (unnatural requirement to make things better)
  • self-indulgent (see self-harm. Also, believing you are best-selling, A-list material when really you're no better than wash and wear, hang to dry polyester)
  • self-harm (obsessive overuse of excessively loaded caffeine and alcohol based beverages and food products. Cab Sav infused chocolate for example)
  • self-congratulatory (what you would do if you could just reach behind your back ((to pat it))and tried harder in yoga class)
  • self-absorbed (how you feel at writing festivals because you've drank too much coffee)
  • self-apparent (how you feel at writing festivals when it becomes embarrassingly obvious that your needs have become unavoidably apparent, and if you don't relieve yourself immediately, it will be more than just your kidneys that are absorbed)
  • self-edification (the revelation you attain after attending numerous writing festivals and finally learning to cut down on the caffeine)
  • self-promoting (see my Face Book page)
  • Selfies (term authors incorrectly use when taking multiple, random, out of focus photos of the front covers of the advance copies of their latest book release to assault the rest of the reading world with. Because no matter how good or bad the cover is, it's never going to be worse than an actual Selfie.
 Any of these sound familiar?


Anonymous said…
Hi Dimity,
I really enjoyed this!
Our technological society has become obsessed with the tortuous 'Selfie' so it is refreshing to remember that we have other 'selfies' that taunt us on a regular basis. Well written...
DimbutNice said…
Thanks Belinda. Really the list is endless but a timely reminder I hope, that like our own 'self-belief', words and thoughts are constantly evolving and altering...just like our stories.

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