The selfie as a microtrend

The selfie as a microtrend by Cashmyra Rozendaal

Selfie. It was THE word of the year 2013 and it is still very popular today. It happens a lot that a group of people quickly pause what they are doing and say: ‘let’s make a selfie’. Or people spent quite some time taking the ‘perfect’ selfie of themselves. What should appear as the most nonchalant picture ever, might took an hour before the perfect combination between the right facial expression and camera angle was found.

The Oxford Dictionary states that a selfie is: ‘’A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media’’. Although self-portraits have been made for decades and are comparable to a selfie, there is a big difference. Selfies have a unique angle, most of the time the picture is taken within an arm’s length of the subject and this type of close-up is a bit unusual in actual self-portraits (Saltz, 2014).

Some say that taking too many selfies is turning kids and adults into narcissistic human beings with a disturbed view of self-esteem (Jayson, 2016). By turning the camera on ourselves, we might get caught up by our own self-made image and we might forget our surroundings. Although this is a good point, it also sounds a bit depressing. This is just one way to look at the phenomenon.

According to Clive Thompson: “Taking a photograph is a way of trying to understand how people see you, who you are and what you look like, and there’s nothing wrong with that.” (Wortham, 2013). If we look at the process of taking selfies as a form of therapy and awareness of the self, it might be more important than we think. We also seem to prefer a selfie of someone preparing food over the actual picture of the finished dish (Wortham, 2013).

This has probably something to do with the fact that we hardwired to recognise faces. We even unconsciously try to recognise faces in paintings or images that clearly don’t contain a human face at all. For example, we look at clouds and claim to see a face. This process of being attracted to faces already starts when we are just babies (Stumpel, 1993).

A simple selfie can quickly show our surroundings and our own emotions. We can easily communicate to anyone how we are doing on an exact moment. In a way, we use these pictures as a substitute for an actual human (Stumpel, 1993). We don’t see an image, we see a person.

So, the popularity or the reason behind taking selfies is very clear. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are the perfect channels to distribute the selfie. The selfie is a micro trend because it is basically a product that came from our need to share ourselves on the internet. It is very popular, for a few years already and it seems like this trend is still going strong. Slightly different types of selfies seem to appear, with a duckface or taking it with a selfie stick to capture more of the surroundings, but the basic idea of a selfie stays strong. In the trend lifecycle we still seem to be on its peak.

Do you think that the selfie will turn into a meso trend, as a consumer need instead of a product? Can we live without the selfie?



Jayson, Sharon. ‘’Is Selfie Culture Making Our Kids Selfish?,’’ in The New York Times, June 2016,  (visited 11-09-2016)

Saltz, Jerry. ‘’Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie,’’ in New York Magazine, February 2014,’s_Length_(2014_article).pdf  (visited 11-09-2016)

Stumpel, Jeroen. Iconitine en andere genotmiddelen : over de grondslagen van een beeldkunde. Utrecht: Faculteit der Letteren, Rijksunv., 1993

Wortham, Jenna. ‘’My Selfie, Myself,’’ in The New York Times, October 2013, (visited 11-09-2016)

Oxford Dictionary.  (visited 14-09-2016)



2 thoughts on “The selfie as a microtrend

  1. -Peter Engelshove-

    I think that the micro trend ‘selfie’ will remain a micro trend and won’t change into a meso trend. One of the characteristics of a meso trend is namely: “create awareness amongst consumers that they have a specific need”. The selfie will not evoke that specific need. Nowadays people are loving selfies, but in the future people will maybe use 360 degrees’ videos and you don’t know what kind of developments will come in the future.

    But on the other side, we must not forget that there has always been a form of selfies. In your article, you are telling that there is a difference between the angle an image was taken. But I don’t agree with that statement. “The only difference between a modern teenager and Rembrandt was that Rembrandt didn’t have a selfie stick and an Instagram account” (Wilson, 2015).

    Wilson, M. (2015). Behold, The Bright Future Of The Selfie!. Retrieved 15 September, 2016, from


  2. I think we can’t live without the selfie because people love to hear that they are so beautiful, amazing and wonderful. When we post a selfie for the World to see, we eagerly await for the likes and comments to show up from friends and strangers. Sometimes immediately after posting, we stick around for a few minutes and rapidly refresh the page to see how quickly they start rolling in. Why? Because these likes and comments make us feel loved. After all, it was a picture of me, of my face. Maybe we aren’t so ugly after all?

    Those same likes and comments also make us feel accepted. “I posted a picture of my face and 24 people liked it! Wow! Maybe they think I’m cool, good-looking, fun or maybe they want to date me?!” These are the types of things that go through our minds. Maybe we just want to know that someone else cares about us, that they see us or that we matter.

    We all want to be loved. We all want to be accepted and we all want to matter. In a culture that is very focused on “self,” I’m not surprised that “self-ies” have become so popular and also will be in the future. Everyone is worried about themselves, instead of focused on how to be a blessing to others. This make sense because people aren’t getting built up by others even though we constantly look for it.


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