A few weeks ago, we told you about “Leave the Office Early Day.” We thought that might be the strangest “holiday” in June. We were wrong. That honor belongs to June 21.
Welcome to National Selfie Day.
It’s easy to ask, “How did selfies become a thing?” And even easier to ask, “Do we really need a national holiday devoted to them?” Then again, we live in a country where the first Saturday of February is “Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day” and October 3 is “Virus Appreciation Day.”
The selfie—a self-portrait taken by smart phone and shared on social media may be a 21st century phenomenon, but examining the history of self-portraiture, however, shows it isn’t some newfangled techie thing the kids are doing. You could argue the selfie, or at least its precursors, predates the Kardashians by a couple of centuries.
History of a Craze
Today’s selfie is no different from the age-old art of portraiture—drawings, sculptures and paintings, primarily reserved for those deemed important enough to be honored with a work of art. Portraiture began to resemble the selfie with artists such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh, who painted their own likenesses, face forward, on the canvas.
In the 1800s, Robert Cornelius produced a daguerreotype of himself. In addition to being the first photograph of a person, this image was the original “selfie.” When the Kodak Brownie box camera debuted in 1900, self-portraiture became more widespread.
The term selfie was coined in 2002. Today, selfies have been taken in space by astronauts and by monkeys in the jungles of Indonesia. It’s even an official Scrabble term. With that kind of clout, it’s not as surprising there is an entire day devoted to the phenomenon.
Cybersecurity and the Selfie
Of course, as with any big craze, there is a level of responsibility that must be maintained. In 2015, it was reported more people died taking selfies than by shark attacks. Governments have even created official “Selfie Safety Guides.”
One major safety concern is around cybersecurity. In this era of social media, you might think you have privacy settings on lockdown, but nothing online is safe. In the senior living industry, online privacy and securing information is especially critical. While teenagers have grown up in the digital age, seniors are often unfamiliar with the ins and outs of social media privacy settings.
At Bethesda Senior Living Communities, we advise that the best rule of thumb is to presume anything you post online, be it a top-secret family recipe or a family photo, is public information. We like social media as much as the next person, but we venture online with caution.
Besides, when it comes to selfies—or any kind of portraiture—we prefer the old-fashioned family scrapbook. We’re always more than happy to take pictures to add to the trove of memories for our residents and their families. Maybe we need a National Family Photo Album Day.