Belfast Telegraph

Snap out of it ... why era of selfie-indulgence has me cheesed off

By Lindy McDowell

There is a time and a place. But those two overgrown adolescents of global politics, David Cameron and Barack Obama seemingly fail to grasp that a memorial service, no matter how "celebratory" demands a bit more respect from so-called world leaders, than the selfie-regarding pair of them craning into the frame with Neil Kinnock's Danish daughter-in-law.

The sight of the trio posing for iPhone posterity (while dignified Michelle stared frostily ahead) has sparked general media dissection of other ill-advised selfie behaviour by adults who should know better and don't have an album to sell.

The fallout is that no sooner has "selfie" been saluted as one of the words of 2013 than it's being held up as an example of the newest, lowest form of self-promotional, immature behaviour.

But actually the self-taken pic is nothing new. It's been around for as long as those boring blokes who used to arrange a line-up of victims (sorry, friends) set the camera timer and then sprint back to join them before....

"Smile everybody! Any second now... Keep smiling...get ready.....here it comes....ummm....don't think I've set it right.... just bear with me while I try to....."

Flash, snap!

"Oops. Right, let's have another go."

The selfie itself isn't the problem. My only issue with the selfie is this – why can't people keep it to themselves?

I don't want to be in your pics. I don't want to be on your Facebook page. Or Tweeted to the nation on the edge of a group shot where we're all trying to look like we're having a ball on a big night out when actually (and I know I may be the only person in the entire universe who feels this way) I've had it totally up to here with having my photy taken several hundred times in the last hour to satisfy other people's Facebook commitments.

I'm considering launching a campaign about this in the run-up to Christmas – the week that is the most trying in the calendar for those of us who prefer conversation, vodka and craic to .... "Now if you could all just lean in a wee bit... that's it! That's it! Now cheese, everybody! Cheese!"

Cheesed off does not begin to cover it. You go out with a group of say 20 people and the chances are that 19 of them will at some point whip out their Samsung and ask you to get in shot. And only a small proportion of these people will take no for an answer.

The rest see a photo refusal as some sort of personal insult. Or a challenge. You put your hand up across your face and they just bend round to get you from the side. Or sneakily snap you when you've got a gob full of peanuts.

What is this about? People will respect your wishes if you tell them you want to become a Druid, have your ashes shot into space or marry your cat. Tell them you don't want your photograph taken – again – and it's like you're odd and unreasonable and must be snapped (digitally) out of your weirdness.

Maybe this is what happened to Barack and Dave. Maybe your Danish woman just would not let it go. "Och, come on now, boys, you will, you will."

I won't. I'm under no illusion that I'm wanted in shot to add to the aesthetics of the composition. I'm just there to fill up a space.

And as soon as the pic's been taken we have to review it. And all the other pics taken by everybody else around the table. It's the smartphone equivalent of the Sixties couple inviting the neighbours round for a slideshow of their holiday snaps. Selfish as it might seem, I'd really, rather not. I'm quite happy sitting here with my drink, thank you very much, well out of shot.

All by my selfie.

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