Old fashioned bores are moaning our selfies are killing the family photo
Out of touch dinosaurs are mourning the death of the family snap, shaming our generation for its obsession with selfies. But what exactly is their problem?
The selfie is merely the latest stage in the long tradition of documenting mankind’s progress. Once there were paintings, busts and cave drawings. Now there is the InstaFilter, Photoshop and front facing camera phones.
The wails of anguish have been prompted by an Albelli UK survey, which says more than one in three young Brits have not taken a photo with their parents in the past decade. The results have been greeted by the usual chorus of doom and gloom by technophobic Luddites, convinced the birth of the selfie will spawn the collapse of Western civilisation. No more family photos? Where will it end? What utter tripe.
The perma-pessimists sneer at the democratisation of photography, how anybody and everybody can take endless photographs and edit them to their heart’s content. They’d have us return to the bad old days when a family photo was a tortuous and painful ordeal. First you’d have the struggle of choosing the best spot, pontificating over where the light would hit you in a manner more appropriate for the Met Office than a family day out.
Then you’d have the battle over where you should all stand, positioning everyone like pieces on a chess board to ensure they could all be seen. Next there’d be the agonising wait for the camera to click. Eyes pleading, hands gripping, smiles fading, the seconds would tick by as the collective will to live dissipated and self-loathing set in.
After the merciful release of the flash, there was the mad rush to grab the camera and the sharp intake of breath as the disappointing image flashed up on the screen. And then the whole ghastly thing would begin again as you were marched back to your positions to re-enact the charade. It is worth reflecting on just how many family arguments must have been caused by this exhausting process.
Then along came the selfie. Finally you could take a picture without delays, manoeuvrings or worries about who was blinking in the second row. Didn’t like the angle? Lift the phone up a metre and take another 20. Got red eye? Touch it up using an app. Decent images without the hassle, family photos without the feuding. You could capture the happy, joie de vivre of a moment with none of the awkward fixed posing.
Previously we had to ration our photos like a post-war Berlin housewife. Mindful of slow shutters and limited storage space, we spent ages lining up the perfect shot, by which time the moment was lost. Of the dozen or so family photos each year, a disproportionate number were taken abroad or at Christmas, suggesting you spent most of your time wearing sunglasses or a Santa hat. The necessity of mobile phones means we are now able to capture whatever we choose to, ensuring a more realistic depiction which contains memories of every day life.
Narcissism? Please. As Anne of Cleves showed us, humans have always enjoyed flattering images. Now the selfie has enabled us all to attain them. The selfie is a force for inclusion. Previously a family member was banished behind the lens: with selfies, everyone is involved.
The selfie is killing the family photo? Viva la revolución.