Monday, August 4, 2014

A Shadow of Your Former "Selfie"

Fox & Friends, take a good, long look at your selfie, which is reminiscent of the guy — let’s call him Mr. Cool — who extended his left arm out the car window and snapped a self-pic while high-speed driving. (Visual proof exists on the ‘Net. Google it.) It is, as Millennials and the iGeneration might say, an epic fail, destined to join the long, growing ranks of selfie failures, including these:

Nolan Harrington

In the age of social media, who isn’t familiar with the phenomenon — a rather vain and narcissistic one, in my humble opinion — of posing for a camera … that you’re holding with your extended arm? Pucker those lips; it’s time to take a photo of yourself. You know what it’s called. Everyone does. No one lacks selfie awareness.

Everyone from the tween next door to the POTUS takes selfies. Most have the impact of a BB gun against Godzilla, though others, like the one Bradley Cooper took for Ellen DeGeneres during the 2014 Oscars, capture the logged-on nation’s attention.

Ellen DeGeneres @TheEllenShow

The term selfie has been part of the vernacular for more than a decade, but only in the last few years did it make mainstream inroads. In 2012, Time magazine named selfie one of the year’s “top 10 buzzwords,” and Oxford Dictionaries deemed it the “word of the year” in 2013. Oxford Dictionaries traced selfie back to an Australian online forum in 2002. In explaining the evolution of the word, editorial director Judy Pearsall said: “In early examples, the word was often spelled with a -y, but the -ie form is more common today and has become the accepted spelling. The use of the diminutive -ie suffix is notable, as it helps to turn an essentially narcissistic enterprise into something rather more endearing. Australian English has something of a penchant for -ie words — barbie for barbecue, firie for firefighter, tinnie for a can of beer — so this helps to support the evidence for selfie having originated in Australia.”

Knowing what we now know about the word’s etymology, it shouldn’t surprise us to see it spelled with a y at the end from time to time. Instead of a y or the ie blazed Down Under, however, Fox & Friends went down under the water, so to speak. In a segment about 150 words being added to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (including hashtag, spoiler alert, Yooper, turducken and fracking), the news program transposed a couple of letters on its graphic along the bottom of the screen, which in the industry is known as a lower third. The result? Something akin to warty comb jellies, saber-toothed whales, sea cucumbers, hairy frogfish, bristle worms, goblin sharks, glass sponges and, for the believers out there, the Loch Ness Monster. We’ve encountered strange selife.

Fox & Friends would be wise to keep that spelling, like a selfie-taking smartphone, at arm’s length.

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