What is a Selfie and Who Invented It?

Producer, director, writer, editor, actor, and researcher, Sarah Burton has to wear many hats while working for BuzzFeed Video, but can she answer the question, "Who Invented the Selfie?" Spoiler alert, she can't but as the adage goes, it's the journey not the destination. Watch as Burton humorously struggles to discover who took the first selfie, and struggles even further when the very definition of selfie comes into question.

I remember being annoyed when the word selfie began flying around. "It's just a made-up word for something that already exists," I'd exclaim. A self-portrait. But as time went on the term began to take on more meaning.

Webster's Dictionary defines a selfie as: "an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks." Wikipedia defines a selfie as: "a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera which may be held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick. Selfies are often shared on social networking services, are for vanity usually flattering and made to appear casual." Oxford Dictionary defines a selfie as: "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media." Urban Dictionary defines a selfie as: "a style of photography wherein 1) the photographer's own face is included in the photograph, 2) and the camera is held by the photographer when the photo is taken." Don't look up the other definitions of selfie on Urban Dictionary. Just don't.

Even though the definitions of a selfie seem to vary slightly, from one source to another, there are some commonalities among them. A photograph that one has taken of oneself, with some kind of digital camera, to be shared via social media. Do you agree with this definition? And with this definition in mind, can we now answer the question, "Who Invented the Selfie?" Looking back at how I use to react to the word, I can't believe this is even on my mind. I'll blame it on being 4 a.m. and ask you to leave your input in the comments below. Something entertaining to read when I wake up with my morning coffee.

[via BuzzFeed Video]

Kenn Tam's picture

Been holding this damn camera in my hand since 1991.
Toronto / New York City

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arm extended or a polestick in the frame plus my lovely face in it... something i flee from at full speed!
Hate the concept of selfies, hate watching people being more concerned on framing a fake smile then actually enjoying the location they're in.
not my thing and i think most photographers think alike honestly.

The word "selfie" is quite possibly Australia's greatest 21st century contribution to the world. 😂