It’s either another bold step in the mission to monetise every aspect of digital life, or just a sad sign of how self-absorbed everything has become. Possibly both. Who cares, when self portraits are now such big bucks?
We’re not talking about selfie sticks, either. One of which, as it happens, eBay was shifting every 30 seconds in the run up to Christmas 2014.
Pretty astonishing figures, the selfie stick market remains in rude health. And a wide variety of other business sectors are benefitting from what’s perhaps best described as a narcissistic economic boom, too. People have never taken so many pictures of themselves- doing something, with someone, or some people- and brands are only too aware of this.
Intrigued? Appalled? Perplexed? Desperate for a distraction to stop you whipping the iPhone out and snapping a shot of your own face for the fifth time today? No problems, read on for our seller’s guide to the selfie economy.
You heard it here first. Maybe not. Regardless, HD make-up was invented for celebrities once TV and film cameras were good enough to capture every last pore and blotch. Current mainstream demand is apparently fuelled by the desire to take pictures of ourselves with our own (alarmingly powerful) mobile cameras.
L.A.-based TV presenter Triana Lavey is said to have spent $12,000 on surgery because she wanted better selfies. It sounds ridiculous, particularly if you grew up Before Digital, when a good photo meant turning on red-eye-reduction. But then the more we look at ourselves the more faults we’re likely to find.
They’re in clubs, at weddings, and somehow managed to wind up at a party we attended the other week. Photo booths, once only the domain of characters in Hollywood romcoms and people in need of a new passport, have made the leap back into mainstream social culture, and we’re paying for the privilege.
As the world’s largest tech company, it says a lot when Apple tweaks its best selling product- the iPhone- adding, amongst other things, a ‘take a selfie’ option to the camera menu, and new functionality to illuminate the selfie-taker’s face in dark settings. Demand dictates supply, as they say.
China’s MeituPic and the more international MyIdol are just two examples of apps designed specifically for editing, altering, and playing around with selfies. Some let you swap faces with others in the image, others allow you to change yourself into a GIF. Most let you airbrush to your heart’s content on the way home.
U.S. computer programming school, General Assembly, offers classes on ‘selfie management’- delving into the art, craft and technique of taking a good selfie, and tricks for successful management of your online persona. Universities are also in on the act, taking self portraiture art courses to a whole new level.
Kim Kardashian Selfish is probably the most famous title in this niche area of writing, but we can definitely assure you there are more. Throw in the huge number of articles and blog posts written each month, and you can understand why there’s a micro-literary economy based around the not-so-humble selfie.