Sunday, August 16, 2015

All Is Vanity - Denigration of Selfies as a Form of Social Regulation (or: "iphone, iphone in my hand, who is the fairest in the land?)

In Ann Burns' Self(ie)-Discipline: Social Regulation as Enacted Through the Discussion of Photographic Practice (discussed also in Nathan Jurgenson' s What is a Selfie?)  Burns argues that commentary about selfies has "a regulatory function" that not only " acts as a cloaked expression of sexist attitudes but also defines and stigmatizes a specific group of subjects."  Whether this is true or not it reminds me a bit of Charles Allen Gilbert's 1892 drawing titled "All Is Vanity:"

I came across the above in Claire Tanner's Vanity, 21st Century Selves ( MacMillan, 2013).

Toward the end of "What Is A Selfie?"  Jurgenson suggests that the term "selfie" is somewhat fluid and that we should study those changing meanings since the "fluid meaning of selfie tracks the fluid meaning of the self."  As we continue our own research on "whether the internet makes people narcissistic" (and other present day anxieties about the internet) this seems like a worthy investigation.  And one that could also be complimented by investigating the fluid significance of words like vanity, humility, narcissism and self-promotion.