Self·ie |ˈsel-fē |
(n.) an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks.[i]
This Sunday while mindlessly perusing through my latest news feed, I came across an intriguing hashtag; use the selfie for good. With just five words, I felt challenged. My innate competitive spirit made me think, how many useless selfies have I taken and posted. Granted, I am not alone in what seems to be a pervading global culture. #Selfies and variations of the hashtag can return upwards of 45 million posts on Instagram alone, an ever-changing number that reflects our obsession with the way we portray ourselves to the world; a mass-marketing scheme like no other. We, the brand, yield to the most inexpensive form of advertising and our followers, the consumer, can then rate our value with the tap of a finger.
The action of taking portraits in this genre of photography, however, is not new at all. In fact, the Library of Congress holds that the earliest photography record of a self-portrait, selfie, was taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839[ii]. Yet, the fascination that this generation has with selfies is complex. While critics warn against the dangers of narcissism and obsession citing some tragic accidental deaths that have been attributed to the act of taking a selfie, there are proponents that condone the selfie. Advocates say there can be a sense of empowerment attached to a selfie. By manipulating the angle at which the picture is taken, we can control the proportions of our features and filter away our insecurities, projecting only what we choose. We post at our discretion, and then the viewer succumbs to the perception we’ve decided to portray. Their judgments are made in fractions of a second, a validation of this manipulated representation of us; I agree it can be an extremely empowering concept.
So, how can we succumb to our narcissistic desire to post selfies guilt free? Is it even possible to harness our self-adoration and channel it towards a selfless cause? It seems that with little effort, we can. There are several awareness initiatives and charitable organizations with currently on-going campaigns which have proposed the use of selfies to promote their causes. The idea is simple: post a creative selfie, use their hashtag, the world is somehow better. For those of you who enjoy receiving push notifications for each like your selfies receive, you’ll be pleased to know that some organizations even have a monetary donation value attached to your selfies.
For your convenience, I have picked some of my favorites to list and link below. Please share with me how you will use the selfie for good. Happy posting!
The Organization: Plan is a global children’s charity working with and for the world’s poorest communities to provide children with basic rights. Plan has a concrete five-year scope of work designed around strategic goals; my favorite of which, centers around children and a special focus on adolescent girls. Let’s face it, growing up is hard enough without all the socio-economic odds against a girl!
The Selfie: Take a selfie with a tampon, make a small donation of £3 (roughly $4.75) via SMS text, and let your altruistic heart rejoice knowing you’ve supported gender equity.
Why I love it: Ever since reading, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret I’ve had the idea that with menstruation came empowerment. It is the coming-of-age milestone women of every race and culture share. So, why feel embarrassed? Instead, men and women alike can partner up to break this stigma and contribute to the worldwide disambiguation of gender equality.
Bonus: It’s fun to see men the likes of Jon Snow holding a tampon!
The Organization: Plan UK’s (same as number above) campaign Because I am a Girl is the world’s largest campaign for girls’ rights. This particular cause is to help end the giving away of little girls to be subjected to a life of isolation as child brides.
The Selfie: Make a donation of your choice (remember it’s in British Pounds, convert accordingly) and you will receive an exclusive ring to wear. Once you receive your ring, take your selfie with pride and post on ever social media outlet with the hashtag #endchildmarriage, let your denunciation of this disgusting act ring loud and clear.
Why I love it: Because I am a Girl!
Bonus: This organization knows that jewelry is the way to a girl’s heart. Anyone who defends girls and gifts me jewelry, has my support!
The Organization: Huggies diaper brand and Walmart have partnered in this contest which ends June 25, 2015 at midnight.
The Selfie: Take a picture with your adorable children. Then, post it with the hashtag
#UltraHug and include the name and description of the community project in the United States you are choosing to nominate for a $2,000 grant. For my readers who love to smuggle selfies with random children walking along the streets of Cambodia barefoot, I suggest you read the rules carefully; apparently you must claim the child as your own if they are going to be in your selfie.
Why I love it: There are so many small, start-up non-profit community projects that are already dedicating themselves to the greater good of our communities. Why not throw a little change their way and see what positive changes they can bring about with it.
Bonus: The gravitation we feel as humans towards babies and their innocent smiles is undeniable. Even A Girl in Her Thirties, must admit she cannot deny the feeling of bliss that the smile of a baby can bring.
The Organization: Fight CRC describes themselves as “a community of advocates. Researchers. Mothers. Family members. Survivors. Dreamers. Fighters.” With a board of amazing people to lead their fight against Colorectal Cancer, a Grassroots Action Committee, Medical Advisory Board, and plenty of celebrities on their side, this organization is educating and supporting patients about colon and rectal cancer.
The Selfie: Forget flexing only on Fridays! Why wait when there’s a good reason to show off your strength today? You can post a selfie while flexing your biceps using the hashtag #StrongArmSelfie and Bayer Healthcare will donate $1 to the cause for every selfie posted.
Why I love it: While most of the other good causes on the list appeal to girls and women, this particular do-good selfie appeals to a wider population. I would love to see if the fellas are up for the challenge of using the selfie for good.
Bonus: This is the perfect excuse I hadn’t been looking for to get back to the gym. This will surely motivate me during my lifting blues.
The Organization: The Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation seeks to inspire positive change from within the community to provide better access and care for those who are wheelchair bound. Sadly, there are stereotypes and stigmas that those within the disability community must face on a daily basis. Fortunately, there exits the FDAAD and their latest project and app designed to make life easier for this subgroup in our communities. “The primary function [of the app] is that anyone who has downloaded the app can upload or view photos of “problem areas” around where they live, such as buildings and public spaces with insufficient ramps, access points or lifts. Other users can also vote or comment on the photos they see, highlighting the most unacceptable locations.”
The Selfie: This one is different, and by definition, maybe it is not even a selfie as it will not be posted to social networks per se; either way, I felt the opportunity for altruism was too good to pass up. While no hashtag is required, the success of this project will greatly depend on the participation of its users. So, get involved!
Why I love it: This is the only local initiative on this list. This one is strictly Florida and is designed for the very purpose of the betterment of the place we live.
Bonus: You do not have to be a member of the disability community to participate. Look forward to this app in on Android and Apple platforms in July of 2015, and use it to take selfies for the greater good.
Notable mention: I Am That Girl’s Take Back the Mirror Campaign consists of looking a mirror, then writing yourself a loving message, and snapping a selfie. If you feel so inclined, and you most probably will, post it using the hashtag #mirrorlove so girls everywhere can benefit from your positive words.