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Selfies: The History, Maths And Future

'Selfie', a word no one ever heard off few years back and now, somehow has become a part of everyone's life

Photo Credit : Reuters

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Instagram, Snapchat and now Whatsapp, they all have one thing in common now i.e. stories which last for 24 hours and encouraging users to upload selfies. 'Selfie', a word no one ever heard off few years back and now, somehow has become a part of everyone's life. Back in 2005-2006, when Myspace emerged on the social networking scene, selfies entered in our lives. And in 2013 it made its way into Oxford Dictionary as the word of the year; Oxford Dictionaries editors revealed that the frequency of the word selfie in the English language had increased by 17,000 per cent since the previous year.

A closer look reveals that the concept of selfies had been around for hundreds of years but in a different form of self-portraits. The purpose served was the same as it is today, a representation of self with an objective of introspection and beauty. With the advent of technology, the phenomenon today has reached a new level and certainly the rationale too has undergone noticeable shifts.

Neuroscientist James Kilner explains the science behind why selfies have become the greatest photographic trend in today's world. According to him the reason lies in our new found knack to look at ourselves in the way we want the world to look at us. Selfies have empowered us for the first time to be able to take the pictures of ourselves which portray an image that comes closer to matching our perception of what we think we look like. The selfie can be used as a tool to share yourself with others, it's a snapshot that conveys what you're doing, where you are and what you're feeling. Let it be any occasion, it has become an unsaid rule to upload a selfie and upload on the social media and equally important is to check what others are doing.

What is more intriguing is how brands have leveraged this trend to strategize their product launches and connect with customers. Psychological studies are harnessing more and more information about the use of social media to help professionals recognize the avenues to streamline their offerings.

One of the biggest leverage of this trend in recent times has been taken by India's PM Narendra Modi to make his Brand Modi more visible. In 2014, then a PM candidate, Narendra Modi posted a selfie after casting vote and another selfie with his mother after winning. In fact, he has been posting selfies throughout the election campaign. A complete digital campaign was also run around #SelfieWithModi where fans could upload their photos on to a mosaic site.

The selfie taken at the 2014 Oscars, featuring the likes of Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Roberts is the most retweeted tweet in history. While the picture showcased the proliferation of the selfie in the global arena; another noteworthy story in the background was that, Bradley Cooper, who took the shot, was using DeGeneres' Samsung Galaxy Note 3. It was a big opportunity for Samsung, and it encashed it big-time.

In the times of advent of the selfie phenomena, a handy smartphone with a front facing camera and a basic data plan, and you were armed to shoot and instantly share your selfie with the world. But today taking a selfie has become a much more serious process. You need great light, wide angle, perfect contrast and colours and the list goes on. The smartphone makers have taken a cue from this and have developed phones with USP as front camera or the so called 'Selfie Camera'.
Consider the case of Oppo phones, wherein the company has now positioned itself as Oppo camera phone and entire campaigns are based on the positioning as 'The Selfie Expert'. Not far away is the intended message of Gionee phones which offer front flash to enhance the selfie experience. With every new smartphone coming, the companies are investing heavily in improving the selfie experience as today it is one of the core functions served by the gadget.

Selfie isn't a static tool to be leveraged by brands as many successful campaigns by Indian companies prove how they can empower the consumers and help connect with them better. One of the finest example was the Dove selfie campaign which encouraged women to upload selfies with the theme "Shed your inhibitions. Take a Selfie and show the world how beautiful you are" to empower and helped them celebrate their 'real beauty'.

The future of selfies is expected to transform our lives in many ways. A research by UK based firm reveals how they could be used in banking products where the uploading selfies can be a potential safety feature including selfie passwords. Second sector with applications of selfies is healthcare where they can be used for taking appointments with doctors and monitoring skin diseases in particular. Another research predicts the application of selfies as a social currency wherein people would pay for entry in a movie hall or a tourist attraction through a selfie.

Though it is early days for these future applications but what is certain is the fact how selfies are transforming our lives and the potential they carry to revolutionize multitudes of tasks performed in our daily life. Every day we see start-ups coming with business models never thought before, what is interesting to look for is how companies leverage selfies in course of time since specifically in India with the advent of digital wave, the number of smartphone users are expected to soar rapidly creating more opportunities in rural India to be particular.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Sidharth Sachdeva

The author is an MBA student at IIM Raipur and an alumni of University Of Delhi. A finance enthusiast, he is an avid writer and traveler

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Nikita Pendse

Nikita Pendse is an MBA student at IIM Raipur and alumni of RGPV University. Explorer at heart, she experiences cultures through gastronomy and music. She is the executive member of the public relations committee of IIM Raipur and publishes at various platforms.

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