For Whom Doth The Selfie Shine?

SelfieYo Selfie Picture Chat App

As we gaze into the selfie app lens for a final chapter of 2015 and contemplate what’s next for SelfieYo in 2016, we look to the smart people all around us who embrace the selfie phenomena with passion and skill.

We spend most of our time and energy on the mobile development aspects of SelfieYo; improving our selfie foundation on iOS, Android and the server-side components of what we do to make location-based photo chat work, but it’s the outside world of human behavior that drives as much of the reasoning behind decisions made in Apple Xcode or Android Studio (developer environments for iPhone and Google’s Android, respectively).

Inspiration for features, functionality and that potential next “break through” comes from trying to be in-touch with the fast moving, fast snapping world around us.

Users. Taste makers. Regular people going about their daily lives, unflinchingly taking more and more selfies; doing more and more mobile chatting. These are all the people we draw great influence and inspiration from for actual mobile development of our selfie apps.

And so today, while we polish up some baseline features in the SelfieYo app, like the smile detection algorithm and the location-based picture chat rooms, the next phase of work heavily involves building deeper and deeper knowledge around why we as a global society keep cranking out selfies.

A recent article by Matt Cain, “In the era of selfies and Instagram, what is the point of the portrait?,”  published in The Independent, gave some thoughtful insight into the relationship between the selfie and the portrait.

A cousin from another continent, the portrait has stood the test of time as a form of classic art expression.

But where and how does the portrait live in today’s snap, flash, chat world of virtually incessant selfie taking? By the way, we don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing; it’s life and it’s our job to help understand it and build relationships upon it.

While Cain was the subject of an actual portrait for his article, he included the view of the artist, Andrew Salgado, that portraiture does not necessarily have as much to do with the subject as it does the artist himself.

Salgado said this to Cain about how he views the faces he paints:

“I think the paintings are very little about the people who are in them,” he laughs. “I think they’re all about me. I see myself as a vampire because I bring people in and I take what I need from them and then I get rid of them!”

This got us thinking about selfies in general and the concept of what some selfies are meant to reflect.

Are selfies like art; is it that the subject matters less than the artist unless they, subject and artist, are one and the same?

In fact, we all consider ourselves artists in some way, shape or form as we snap selfies and share them with the world.

This does not make us artists, per se – or does it?

Are selfies about the person taking the selfie? Are they an expression we want to convey to the world?

Or, are selfies our own attempt at capturing how we think the world sees us?

And then, is how we think the world sees us even close to an accurate reflection of reality?

The more we think about the humanity behind selfie snapping, the more questions we have.

What makes a “perfect selfie” or what does it take to capture an ephemeral moment with as much authenticity as possible?

There are, of course, some easy answers that many pundits would jump to when explaining the growth of selfie’ing around the world. Some would inform us of the confluence of mobile phone technology with a historical human interest in photography. Some would chalk it up to classic narcissistic expression.

But, we’re not so sure that billions of selfies can be explained that easily.

The blending of selfies as a primal expression, and, regular, non-stop communication form via mobile phones, is as connected to humanity as Egyptian hieroglyphics and the ineffable artistry of antiquity; not easy stuff to explain or understand as one looks deeper and deeper into a portrait of a man or a selfie of one’s reflection.

Anyway, we’re glad Mr. Cain published his article about the experience and we’ll continue to ponder how the feelings and emotions behind selfie snapping might influence what we build for mobile in 2016 at SelfieYo.