Selfie Day: history, cases, deaths and records

What it takes us to have a phone with front cameras. I write this while giving myself the courage to complete a note on the “International Selfie Day”, an event that emerged in 2014 as an initiative of DJ Rick McNeely of the Fishbowl radio network in Texas. Over the years, and pushed in large part by the incorporation of better photographic sensors in the front camera of smartphones, There are millions of photos that are uploaded on social networks showing the face in the foreground and a simple background context.

The first selfie: when it happened

This custom is as old as invention of photography, so stop thinking that Britney and Paris were the first to develop this activity. It wasn’t called a “selfie” when she shot herself 183 years ago for Robert Cornelius. In 1839, the young chemist with a passion for photography – the first photo was taken in 1826 – took a self-portrait – a less popular term than selfie – in the backyard of the store his parents owned in Philadelphia.

Disturbing fact: Robert stood still for anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes to get the correct exposure on the daguerreotype he used to capture his own image.

Where does the word ‘selfie’ come from?

In November 2013, the word “selfie” overthrew the popular “twerk” and “bitcoin” as the word of the year by the dictionary of Oxford. The term is defined as “a photograph that one takes of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam, and uploaded to a social network”. The first time it was used publicly was in September 2002, when an Australian took a photo showing stitches on his lip after a drunken night. The individual uploaded the photo to the Internet to ask for advice on the care of the stitches. According to scholars, the origin of “selfie” is an Australian costumbrismo, which tends to use diminutives – Peruvians thought we were the owners of this figure – for each activity.

Technological evolution and selfies

Around 1880, cameras added a controlled shutter release to time the shot, and that spawned a wave of visual experiments. Kodak launches the “Brownie Box” at the beginning of the 20th century, and Polaroid revolutionizes the market with its low-cost cameras during the 1970s. However, the key point comes in 2003, when Sony decides to include a front lens in the Sony Ericsson Z1010 model. Already in 2014, when the “Selfie Stick” came into our lives, the world turned again.

Second disturbing fact: The “Selfie Stick” has a history in 1925, and was included in a 1995 Japanese book along with other “useless inventions”.

The “boom” of selfie

The last decade saw the massification of the “selfie” in a simple act during the development of the 86th Academy Awards ceremony. Ellen Degeneres took his GalaxyNote3 and got the most retweeted selfie in history, with 3.27 million forwards, 217 thousand comments and more than 2.31 million hearts. Pictured are Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jared Leto. Channing Tatum, Kevin Spacey, Lupita Nyong’o and Ellen herself.

Third disturbing fact: Ellen didn’t take the photo. It was Bradley Cooper.

A selfie without humans: it is possible

Perhaps the biggest controversy on the ground selfie This has been the case of David Slater, a nature photographer. During his constant visits to Indonesia, a crested black macaque took a self-portrait with the teams of the professional and was published on July 4, 2011. Credit went to Slater, but the discussion was just beginning. According to the United States Copyright Office, works created by a “non-human entity” cannot be copyrighted, and that material must be in the public domain. Institutions such as PETA demanded the recognition of copyright to the primate, but in 2017 Slater and the entity reached a shared income agreement after the sale of publications.

Most famous selfie accidents and deaths

Such a massive event cannot escape tragedies. Several cities have decided to restrict access to certain public areas to prevent people die trying to take one selfie. The last accident caused by a reckless self-portrait has been the one recorded in January 2022, when Richard Jacobson, 21, was found dead about 700 feet below the Flat Iron Trail, after slipping while trying to “take a picture”

Wikipedia collects several cases of accidents and deaths caused by the search for the selfie perfect, and it would be good to review some facts to understand the potential risk of photographing ourselves in dangerous situations.

selfie as emoji

Unicode version 9 released in 2016 includes the first version of the emoji selfie. Interestingly, the Emoji holds the phone with the left hand in all versions except the emojidex one.

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