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Has The "Selfie" Become The New Autograph?

Updated on May 21, 2014
Not even the President can escape the fad of taking a "Selfie" with a celebrity.
Not even the President can escape the fad of taking a "Selfie" with a celebrity. | Source

In today’s society there are countless fans that may have a certain celebrity, athlete or high ranking official they hold in high esteem. Owning a certain memorabilia associated with the person of interest can mean even more to the fan than its true value. Thus a much sought after article tends to be the highly praised being’s autograph. It’s proof that you have a written document, possibly a personal item belonging to you, signed exclusively for you. It is a special moment to cherish when a superstar stops to take notice of an average human being, showing they appreciate their admirers.

Addressing the long trend of acquiring a signature of different stars is quite interesting. Back in earlier times some years ago, you would need to do one of two things:

  1. Write a letter requesting an autograph to the superstar, and wait an eternity, if at all for a response.
  2. Wait to know when this person you appreciate would be at least somewhat close to your residence for a visit. At that point, you would have to stand and wait outside for the chance you may or may not even get to see them, much less receive a prized autograph as they pass through.

If you were privileged enough to get an autograph however, the long hours in possible harsh weather seemed to pay off. You had the bragging rights of owning a name endorsed on your homemade picture, jersey etc. that you and others viewed as astounding.

What's Changed?

Now flash forward to today. Although many repeat the process of getting an autograph from someone every day, things have changed. No more are ones’ forced into the only option to be in person to attain an autograph. Type in any name you wish in the EBay search engine and you’ll find the object you long for. If for example you visit a celebrity hometown, you may find shops that contain countless autographs the star signed from their last visit. The list goes on and on. Therefore, waiting outside of the star’s trailer and getting a John Hancock has seemed to have lost its touch and creditability. Sure, the story you may tell your friends might seem to impress some, but it’s undeniable that it isn’t as treasured as it had once been. There’s also the new wave of the future in technology where a celebrity who is on a social network such as Twitter and Facebook, can now be contacted much easier than before. At the very least, a celebrity can even “like” a post you put on their page.

Here’s where the times have really changed.

Here’s a scenario for you to ponder over. Say I come to you and tell the story of my vacation a month ago. While I was enjoying the beaches of Miami Florida, none other than Will Smith walks up to a hot dog vendor and orders a frank with mustard and onion right in front of me. While he was chomping on his meal, he sees I’m wearing my “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” t-shirt. He walks up to me, starts chatting away and is moved in seeing how I am still wearing a shirt from his famous 90’s TV show. So therefore after I tell the story, which impresses you more? Seeing a paper with an autograph from Will Smith I hand you, or a “Selfie” I took with Will Smith (with a little mustard showing on the side of his mouth)?

Pretty clear isn't it?

The concept of not only being in the same spot as a superstar, but having a picture taken with them is something more special today than ever. Instantly that photo can then be uploaded to a website and the celebrity can possibly be tagged in it. There’s no denying that a picture with a famous person posted online can draw much attention. In the times we live, a picture posted of a celebrity could become viral. That’s saying a lot concerning a simple picture.

The first "Selfie" known to be taken.
The first "Selfie" known to be taken. | Source

Where Did The Selfie Come From?

The origin of the “Selfie” has been pointed out to have started as early as the 1800’s by a man named Robert Cornelius. A pioneer in photography, he is regarded as not only taking a photo of himself, but also one of the first photos taken of a person in general. Of course the term “Selfie” did not come up until much later. Legend has it that the word first appeared on the internet via an Australian forum in September of 2002. The post was as follows:

“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Still, what has caused such a popular trend of the “Selfie” to take over like it has? Going back to the generation we live in, the internet sites that include Twitter, Facebook, etc. have put profile pictures in the spotlight. Of course individuals want a picture of themselves for their social network page, so the “Selfie” took off. To claim it’s popular status even more, the word itself was added to the Oxford English Dictionary, along with being named “word of the year” in 2013. No doubt the practice of taking a “Selfie” has taken over.


Any End In Sight?

As long as people are one with their cellphones and cameras, the “Selfie” will be around. Therefore, as long as celebrities continue to enjoy the public’s view of taking a photo of yourself with a famous figure, it seems to be the popular approach when meeting your favorite celebrity. An autograph is still highly regarded by fans, but how long before it becomes an old fad? Many see a picture lasting forever, whereas a piece of paper with a signature exposes the con of possibly being destroyed.

That’s where a different view could be taken though.

Collectors typically pursue a rare item that will in the long run continue to gain value as the years go by. With the popularity of celebrity “Selfies”, autographs may be on the decline. This could prove beneficial for ones who are in the autograph collecting field. In the end though we can’t predict if it will happen for sure.

In conclusion then, the “Selfie” is here to stay no matter how much we may want it to leave. If the President of the United States is doing it, well there’s probably no end in sight.

Selfie Celebrity Poll

Which would you personally rather have?

See results


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    • profile image

      Celina 2 years ago

      Hey, good to find soeonme who agrees with me. GMTA.

    • profile image

      Celina 2 years ago

      Great stffu, you helped me out so much!

    • BeyondGS profile image

      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      Ah MySpace, how it opened the way for so much. Yes I agree, both can have pros and cons. But if you could only have one, that's when it's tough. Thanks for the read Chelsea!

    • profile image

      Chelsea 3 years ago

      Emo kids have been excelling at the "selfie" for years………it's called "the MySpace pose." Haha! I would value an autograph more so than a photo I think…an autograph looks more impressive framed on a wall. But getting a picture with a celeb is definitely awesome…although I am the least photogenic person living so every picture I've gotten with anyone is not something to frame !

    • BeyondGS profile image

      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      I agree Larry Rankin, I would want an autograph too. It will just be interesting to see what the next generation of fans do when they meet their favorite star. Thanks for the comments!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great article. I still prefer the good old fashioned autograph, but times are changing.

    • BeyondGS profile image

      BeyondGS 3 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you for the kind words! I don't think people will forget autographs all together, but with this generation at least, I see them racing towards a celebrity saying "Can I get a 'Selfie' with you!?" over an autograph. I can't argue either, uploading a picture with a famous person would be pretty awesome for friends to see. I think autographs will still be wanted though and their value can only increase.

    • LCDWriter profile image

      L C David 3 years ago from Florida

      I have not thought about the selfie and what it might mean in terms of how we react when we meet famous people. Very interesting thoughts here. Honestly I think that autographs will be more valuable but I would not be able to resist proving that I had met this person. For personal value I think a selfie wins hands down! Voted up and interesting!