One of the most frightening trends brought to us thanks to the match-made-in-heaven intersection of social media and smart mobile devices is the proliferation of digital self-portraits.
These are more commonly referred to as, "selfies," which unintentionally conveys an inappropriate quality with that informal term alone.
There are a number of cases where snapping self-portraits are tolerable. But given how often we see them clogging up news feeds across social networks, the practice can become annoying quickly. The inundation becomes even worse when the self-photographer clearly has some narcissistic tendencies -- not to mention he or she has clearly decided not to put on enough clothes.
While they have always existed -- even on 35mm film cameras -- selfies have arguably blown up (so to speak) thanks to front-facing cameras installed on smartphones and then the apps that technology has fueled. Just look at Instagram and Snapchat as a pair of examples.
Now everyone wants a piece of the action.
I don't know if it was because this trend has gone mainstream, Snapchat's rumored $3 billion+ valuation, Halloween is this month, or some sort of distorted algorithm comprised of all of the above. But this month I received a unusually higher number of emails from PR reps pegging their pitches around selfies. I suppose while they did well enough in catching my attention, they also caught my ire just by using that word in the subject line.
For example, here is one from photo and video software provider ArcSoft sent to me earlier in the month with the subject line, "Early Look? Selfie App Growing Faster than Instagram."
On Thursday, Perfect365 (ArcSoft's digital photo makeover app) will be announcing a HUGE milestone – one that shows that the app is growing faster than Instagram did at this stage – and I'd love to share it with you under embargo until [REDACTED] Interested?
Let us know if you agree to the embargo, and we'll shoot over more information.
We also have the app’s developers and the ArcSoft executive team available to chat should you have time for a meeting today. More details on the Perfect365 app can be found below.
Perfect365 allows you to instantly retouch any selfie (add makeup, airbrush a photo… even try on a new look) and is powered by the imaging technology ArcSoft has been developing for almost 20 years. It's the same technology that companies like Samsung and Nikon use to offer advanced imaging in their devices, but with this app consumers can use it on any almost phone/photo – and they are eating it up!
Now, I get the point of the pitch and arguably it gets its point across fine.
But I can't think of an instance in enterprise technology where selfies would be relevant either, so I'm scratching my head at why I was even sent this one in the first place. If they wanted to sell me on the software, they shouldn't have gone with such a consumer tech-focused spin. (Not to mention the headline is misleading based on the metric used to compare growth rates against Instagram.)
Here's another example from a smaller vendor called Facetune with the subject line, "Your Readers will Never Take a Bad Selfie Again." Tapping into one unhealthy influence exuded by the publishing industry, this app offers iPad users the ability to airbrush their selfies.
Air brush photo editing tools typically reserved for pro photogs and celebs (or anyone willing to shell out $500) are now available to your everyday instagram junkie…and just in time for #selfiesaturday.
Whiten teeth with one swipe. Banish blemishes with a tap of the finger. Fix your hair. Smooth out wrinkles. Facetune for iPad allows users to touch up their glamour shots without overdoing it. It’s like Photoshop Pro, only without the price tag and without having to learn a new language. Online dating profiles, LinkedIn photos, hell, even your Facebook page…they’ll never be the same.
I’d be happy to provide you with a little more info if you’d like to learn more. Your readers are probably Instagraming as we speak. Shouldn’t they look their best?
Again, the whole enterprise v. consumer argument. Furthermore, as if incorporating the colloquial, abused phrase "selfie" wasn't bad enough, there's a new, irksome hashtag for the lexicon: "#selfiesaturday." When did that become a thing, anyway?
Screenshot via Facetune