Today’s teens will never know the 2000s struggle of using webcam to perfect your selfie skills

No filter? No problem

Today, selfies have a certain level of dignity. Unless of course taken with flash in the middle of the library, or while steaming in the toilet, then normally they can be well scoped out and enhanced to make you look like a glowing, filtered version of yourself.

But before we had iPhones, we had webcams. A humble piece of noughties technology that allowed girls from the ages of about 11-14 to perfect the trout pout and smouldering eye.

Trying on clothes, drawing on beards for top lols and testing out the kooky fish-eye filter was a weekend well spent. And come Monday, a million versions of what was essentially the same picture would be up on Facebook for the world to see. pc 4 pc?

It’s amazing really that no one ever thought why are we doing this… but now, in our current technological climate, where everyone takes pictures of their every move, it has become clear that the modest webcam pic was all good practice for the era of Instagram and Snapchat.

There was the classic ‘look like you’re having a really care free time’ webcam picture that was supposed to show off your quirky side. With that massive fringe swept perfectly across one eye and a pose that screamed desperation – the webcam countdown would allow you a few seconds to really hone in on a look that would make people wish they’d been round yours for all the fun.

Then there was the ‘I went to the Apple store at Westfield and all I got was this casual but cool webcam pic’, which was arguably the biggest effort to make in the world of webcam. You’d actually have to stand there in public, posing and trying out all the Apple webcam effects that your lousy home PC didn’t offer, then send them to yourself to make the necessary edits and upload. ┬áIt was a real commitment, but one so worth making if anyone was ever going to think you were cool…

The Friday night ‘what are we like’ webcam pic typically involved you trying really hard not to look like you took yourself too seriously by dressing up as a boy. Mascara beards and mono brows were essential if the picture was going to be really, really funny and if you took your webcam career seriously enough, you’d also get into costume. These pictures normally got a lot of love from your equally crazy mates, who would comment with things like ‘oh you two’ and ‘you guys kill me’.

Props were a necessity for any good webcam pic. In fact, why would you even have bothered unless you had a few lying around for your shoot? Glasses with the lenses popped out and an empty bottle of your parent’s booze made for a zany, but classic picture that would definitely garner some attention. Had you been drinking on a Tuesday? Who could tell.

And God knows it all went really rogue when you were left to your own devices at 22:30 on a school night. Nothing could explain the motivation behind putting your science goggles on and taking a few webcam pics. Who were they even for? These are the questions that remain unanswered about the age of the webcam.

What we do know, is that although you might think of these sad days as distant memories you can still find yourself resorting back to all the old poses. The tips and tricks you picked up through your webcam photoshoots are what have formed us today as the generation of the selfie.

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University of Kent