This mini thesis on the Selfie comes from Laurence Allard, a French Professor of Communication Sciences in Paris and Lille, co-author of the book Mobile Phone and Creation (Armand Colin / Recherches), and creator of the Mobactu blog. She was interviewed by Olivier Laurent for Time Magazine in mid-2014.
“The selfie originates from established self-portrait practices in the history of painting and photography, but also from online practices best represented by the use of profile pictures.
“It possesses a real genealogy. But it has also found its own autonomy and definition. Today, we’d be mistaken to define the selfie as a narcissist object or simple self-portrait.
“the selfie is a mobile photographic genre in itself—one that didn’t exist before. It’s deeply linked to mobile photography, a genre that’s not only about the connected image, which is meant for others, but also about expressing your own interior voice.
“the selfie is not so much about a person’s view of him- or herself as it is about that person’s particular place in the world.
“It’s a portrait created by the self, of the self, within its surrounding environment, with the specific goal of sharing that portrait with friends, family or a larger community online.
“The selfie doesn’t exactly fit in the history of photography because of its temporality. It’s not necessarily created for historical and memorial purposes; it’s created with the idea of direct communication”
“It’s a document of the present, while traditional photography largely relates to the past.
“Unfortunately the selfie continues to be bogged down in this narcissist argument. It’s often confused with profile pictures and with some self-representation practices that we can see on Facebook.
“The media tends to highlight online social practices as being the result of narcissistic behaviors, simply because Internet and mobile phones are communication tools open to everyone.”
“In fact, these new communication tools have helped us because the media have now lost their centuries-old monopoly on not only the creation but the mass distribution of both images and of Speech.
“By equating these social practices with narcissism, the media attempts to neutralize their social potential.”