Social networking enables users to document and catalogue events in their lives. Facebook is the diary of the 21st Century. The greater the amount of time social networkers are connected to their profiles it would seem that the greater the demand for them to update their profile picture.
Smart phones enable users to upload photographs of themselves, often immediately after the event and with many phones offering a front-facing camera it is fairly easy for them to take a photograph of themselves....a selfie.
This type of portrait photography has becoming so popular that 'selfie' was included in the Oxford English Dictionary in August 2013.
This genre of photography is particularly popular with teenagers, seeking reassurance and acceptance by having their image 'liked'. However this had also made them vulnerable to being 'hated'. An arm in shot or a mirror are a key indicator that a photograph is a selfie. Social media is enabling users to express themselves and make statements which, without this outlet, would remain unheard. This scenario presents the photographer also as subject and publisher, realising their own creative concept with no redress.
Photographs are no-longer considered events. They happen in an instant with little thought of the aesthetics. This self-portraiture is viewed as narcissistic especially since 30% of photographs taken by 18-24 year olds are 'selfies'. There are now fewer family album type photographs being taken. It is now difficult to establish a pictorial record of family groupings. There will always be a relative who doesn't like their photo taking and so will often stay out of shot.
Selfies enable people to control the images that are released into the public domain, which can be very empowering. However for those who are obsessed with their image being accepted, it can consume their social life and damage self-esteem. The taking of the photograph becomes the occasion rather than the original reason for being there. I think that there are times when a selfie is perfectly acceptable, especially when you want to document your visit to a particular location or event and have no-one else to take the photograph for you.
Just as Narcissus died after falling in love with his own reflection, many risk their own social life by obsessing with taking too many photographs of themselves in order to maintain an ideal identity.