Like so many social changes, the rise of the selfie began with a shift in technology. For most of the twentieth century, photography was expensive and the gratification of capturing a moment was subject to lengthy delay. In the late ’90s, digital cameras changed the economics of photography, making it easy to click, review and erase images.
Shortly after broadband replaced dial-up, the first mainstream social networks began to take off. MySpace (remember MySpace?) popularized the profile pic, and by 2004, images tagged #selfie began to appear on Flickr.
In 2010, in an effort to support video chatting services like Skype and Apple’s own Face time, Apple released a new version of the iPhone 4 with a front-facing camera. Apple’s users began snapping photos of themselves.
‘Selfie’ was named word of the year in 2013 by Oxford Dictionary, and the trend has only increased in popularity since then, even spawning the now ubiquitous ‘selfie stick’ that seemed silly when it first arrived on the scene, but now seems normal. Well, as normal as holding your phone on a 3ft telescopic stick in front of a waterfall can be.
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