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The Selfie Era and More

The term 'selfie' began appearing on the photo-sharing website Flickr as early as 2004 and is now by all accounts more popular than ever and fully integrated into our daily lives.

The selfie went viral because of the introduction of smartphones, most crucially the iPhone 4, which came along in 2010 with a front-facing camera. Thousands and thousands of selfies were posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram every day. By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered 'selfie' one of the Top 10 Buzzwords of that year.

There is related research on every aspect of the selfie, including the demographics of people taking selfies, their poses and expressions. The Selfies Research Network, comprising an international group of academics, studies the social and cultural implications of the selfie. Time reveals that Makati City in the Philippines is the world's selfie city. The city, home to 500,000 people, produces more selfies per capita than all of the 459 cities being ranked.

It is not surprising that 'selfie' was chosen as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013. Today, it's not just a buzzword, but an emerging economy. Starting from March 2015, City Lit College, UK, will offer a first ever month-long selfie course—'The Art of Photographic Self Portraiture'—for £132. The latest craze of the selfie economy is definitely the fast-selling selfie stick. More than 100,000 selfie sticks were sold in the week before last Christmas in the US. The Four Seasons Hotel in Houston started making them available to guests, similar to providing umbrellas, in January. Time also declares it one of the best inventions in 2014. Ironically, Redditors rediscovered a device published in a 1995 Japanese catalogue of useless inventions that looks awfully similar to the selfie stick.

But the stick is not welcome by all. Some consider it narcissistic and dub it the narcissistick. It is banned in Tokyo Disneyland, certain attractions in Singapore, and the Emirates Stadium and White Hart Lane, home of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, respectively. The South Korean government has recently banned sale of uncertified Bluetooth-equipped selfie sticks citing that the devices caused other electronics to malfunction. Retailers who are caught can be fined up to 30 million won and face up to a three-year jail term.

Anyway, selfie stick sales will likely soar across the world. A new kind of selfie-enhancing technology has just appeared in the market—the belfie stick. The device is designed to take a picture of your behind, instead of your face. An all-round view! Though belfie sticks are sold at US$79.99 each, it is said that they are quickly snapped up and shops are taking pre-orders.


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