Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Selfie: An informal noun becomes an emerging word embodying the zeitgeist of 2013

Truth be told / I'm really not that great
at taking "selfies" with my iPhone.

OMG. Word on the street is the Word of the Year is Selfie.

S-E-L-F-I-E. Spelled with an ie at the end not a y. It's an informal noun (the plural of selfie is selfies) that's defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website."

By now, followers of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are very familiar with this hip and happening addition to our lexicon. One need only probe the cluttered newsfeed of their social media platform of choice to realize narcissism is alive and well. Undoubtedly, they'll unearth selfies posted by their friends nearly every day.

Show of hands, is there anyone out there who has a smartphone who hasn't tried snapping a selfie? Truth be told, I'm really not that great at taking selfies with my iPhone. I'm much more at ease photographing roses or sporting events.

"Selfies lit up social media and dirty ones derailed political careers," I learned last week while listening to news of the award on NPR's "Morning Edition". "The word's come a long way since popping up on an Australian message board a decade ago," quipped "Morning Edition" presenter Renee Montagne. "It beat out binge watch, meaning marathon TV watching, and twerk. You can look that one up."

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the cultural buzzword selfie perfectly captured the year 2013 -- even if it's only November and the announcement came before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Other contenders included: bedroom tax, binge-watch, bitcoin, olinguito, schmeat, showrooming and twerk. By the way, last year's Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year was omnishambles. 

"In a related story," joked TV comedian Conan O'Brien, "the funeral for the English language is Saturday."

Seriously though, The Guardian in London reported that frequency of usage of the ubiquitous noun selfie spiked by 17,000 percent over the past 12 months. In its Culture Desk blog following last week's announcement, The New Yorker labeled selfie as "an emerging word that embodies the zeitgeist of the year."

And for that reason, the Oxford Dictionaries has bestowed selfie with the honor of Word of the Year. LOL.

Selfie of Michael Dickens by Michael Dickens.

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