Enlightened State

The Five Commandments of Taking #Selfies

LifestyleMorgan VanekComment

I love it when my friends post selfies. It takes confidence to put a photo of yourself online. I know I only post them when I'm feeling extra-special - when my hair, my makeup, my outfit, or even just my mood is totally rocking. I love knowing the people I care about are feeling the same way.  

But we all have friends who take their selfie game a little bit too far.  Sometimes it seems like all they ever post are pictures of their face or their outfit, and you may be wondering what is going on in their life besides looking into their phone's camera lens. Worse yet are the strangers you see surreptitiously (or not) snapping tons of photos of themselves in public, tripping all over themselves and others, and even engaging in dangerous behavior to do it. Seriously - people have died taking selfies

Even so, it's clear that the selfie is here to stay, and for good reason.  Selfies are a fun, interesting way to engage with your experiences. They may even encourage you to go out and do more than you normally would, and living a fuller life is always a good thing. But it's time to establish some ground rules for these uniquely modern snaps.  Follow these guidelines to ensure that you're always fabulous and never obnoxious.

Thou shalt not inconvenience someone else for the sake of a selfie

A few weeks ago, I was at the grocery store, choosing a couple of avocados, when I looked up and noticed a young lady dressed to the nines taking a selfie in front of the bananas. Then she moved to the onions, the oranges, the potatoes, and the butternut squash. Finally, she approached the tomatoes and asked the employee stocking that section to step aside while she took a selfie in front of those, too. He and I looked at each other, completely dumbfounded, while she leaned over the produce and snapped away. Then, without any thanks, she flounced off to some other aisle, presumably to scout more culinary photo ops. 

This is a prime example of bad selfie behavior. I could forgive her for the strange choice of venue - who am I to judge someone else's artistic vision? But when she inconvenienced the stocker by asking him to stop his work while she took a few photos of herself, she crossed a line. Never inconvenience someone else for the sake of a selfie. Asking a complete stranger to accommodate your desire to take pictures of yourself is bordering on narcissistic, and a good indication that it's not a good selfie opportunity. 

Thou shalt not spam thy feed with selfies that look exactly alike

Everyone knows that girl who only posts selfies. Your feed is filled with pictures of her face, frozen in the same expression but always with a different caption. "Headed to the gym!" "Date night with my love!" "So #blessed!" If you are this girl, it's time to cut it out.  As interesting as your life may be, we don't need a play-by-play featuring pictures of your face.  You're very pretty, but there are other things we want to look at, too. 

Consider turning the camera around sometimes. There are countless opportunities to take interesting photos every day, and you could be missing out on them while you practice the perfect angle. While the occasional selfie is appropriate and encouraged, it's better to show the world from your perspective. I know you don't just look in the mirror all day, so paint us a picture of what your life looks like around you. 

Thou shalt not engage in any activity with the sole purpose of taking a selfie

Another cardinal sin of selfies? Doing something only to get a picture of yourself doing it.  I've noticed an increasing number of people who stroll into a business, a park, or any other venue only to hold their phone up, take a couple of pictures, and leave. 

Be present in your life and fully engage in your experiences. Don't construct a false front just for social media.  This kind of behavior isn't fulfilling, as this young "Instagram star" can tell you. No one's life is perfect, and not everything you see is aesthetically pleasing. We don't expect you to be "on" all the time, so take a break from faking it and either show us something real, or don't show anything at all.  

Thou shalt ask others to assist thee in taking a selfie

The front-facing camera option is pretty great. It increases your selfie-taking opportunities and helps you check your mascara when you're at your desk. But if you're only posting selfies that you take yourself, you're missing out on some prime opportunities to post more interesting snaps. Rather than toting around a selfie stick at all times, consider asking someone else to take the picture for you. Seeing more of the background tells a better story, and you're almost guaranteed to get more likes using this method. In some situations it's even a okay to ask a stranger to take the snap for you, especially if you're at an event or a tourist destination. 

Plus, asking someone else to help you with your photo is a good litmus test for whether your selfie opportunity is appropriate or not. If you feel embarrassed about asking a friend or stranger to help you out, your online friends might also feel embarrassed for you when they see your post on social media. There's a reason why that girl in the grocery store didn't ask someone to come with her for that vegetable-themed photo shoot. Go with your gut on this one - you don't live in a vacuum. And again, if you feel like you're  taking away from someone else's  experience by asking them to snap that picture of you, don't get in their way by doing it yourself. Live and let live, beautiful. 

Thou shalt post selfies judiciously

This rule is perhaps the most important one of all.  Don't post too many selfies.  Try to pick only the best ones to share with your friends, and leave the rest of them in your Photos app - you can always post a #latergram if you decide afterward that one of them is worthy after all. 

And while we're at it - don't post an entire album of variations on the same picture. I know it's hard to get the perfect shot, and even more difficult to to pick the right photo afterward. But posting more than one or two pictures from the same selfie-session makes you look simultaneously bored and boring. If you find yourself doing this a lot, take a step back and find something else to do with your time. You may find that you have more to take pictures of than just yourself. 

Did I miss anything? What are your selfie commandments? Have you ever witnessed (or participated in) a particularly bizarre selfie situation?