In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries gave “selfie” its Word of the Year crown. Although self-potraiture has been around for centuries, this act of visual self-expression (an everyday staple across social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, for example) and interpersonal communications (of the email, texting and sexting varieties) has often been considered a recent phenomena.
The modern-day selfie, as far as the name-branding of taking a picture of oneself using a cell phone goes, can be traced back at least 15 years. Although disputed by some (perhaps Paris Hilton, who was unavailable for comment), the roots of the selfie as we know it are usually linked to an intoxicated Australian, Nathan Hope, who snapped a pic of his swollen lip after a drunken stumble during a friend’s 21st birthday party.
Mr. Hope uploaded the picture to an online forum on September 13, 2002, accompanied by the term selfie. The argument has been made that selfie was already in use in Australia before that fateful posting, but this appears to be the first online record of it. Booze, a busted-up face and a cell phone: all the ingredients you need to make pop culture history.
Visit the Museum of Selfies in L.A., April 1st – May 31st.
Story by Jay Moon