Selfie Etiquette

Selfie Etiquette

In November 2013, Oxford English Dictionary announced "selfie" as the word of the year, according to the BBC.  During that year, the use of the word had increased by 17,000%!

And haven’t most of us tried taking one?  Every time my husband and I take a dual selfie of ourselves, we each give it a try, and we take several shots.  After all, why would you post a picture if you don’t look fairly consistent with what you think you look like.   Admittedly, I’m the one who initiates the picture taking. 

I can't think of anyone who can't have a good time taking a photo of herself in one situation or another.  And how fun to share that picture of yourself in your favorite town, in front of your favorite store or restaurant, or just having fun at a park. 

In fact, the only problem with selfies is when you take too many - or when taking one causes you to be rude to someone else.

Is a Selfie All About You?

There is nothing wrong with taking a selfie, but because we live in a world with other people, doing so can be disruptive.  While the picture focuses on you, it's important to consider the folks who are not in the picture, but may be affected by it.

Whenever I conduct a dining etiquette seminar, the question almost always comes up, “Is it okay to take a picture of the food or of me sitting here at the table with so and so?” 

My standard answer is, “No, cell phones don’t belong on or at the table."  This is generally true, including when attending an instructional dining event - such as a dining etiquette seminar.  Although when at a restaurant for a celebratory meal, I can understand when one or two diners may enjoy some selfie-taking to commemorate the special occasion.

I recall being at a performing arts event once when it was announced that no taking of pictures would be allowed.  But there were some people leaning in towards each other while seated to take a "quiet" photo during the presentation.  Perhaps they thought they weren't breaking a rule as they weren't getting pictures of what was happening on stage, but it was certainly disruptive for those of us who were behind them. 

It's important to remember that the etiquette guidelines for public behavior also apply when snapping some fun pictures of yourself:

  • Respect any “no pictures” signs or requests.
  • Avoid using a flash when it may be bothersome to other people.
  • Don't obstruct sidewalks or walkways.
  • Be observant always and remember safety first!

Remaining Respectful

While photographing yourself in public calls for one set of guidelines, there are also guidelines for avoiding pictures altogether. 

Places where a selfie-taking would not be respectful are:

  • In church.
  • Amidst a wedding or at a funeral.
  • In places of commerce when you’re making a transaction.
  • In museums or at memorials where there should be reverence.
  • Randomly, at someone’s home.
  • In a situation where people may be less fortunate than you and your picture-taking draws attention to yourself. 
  • On the scene of an accident or other misfortune.
  • In any intimate situation.

The premise of a selfie is that it commemorates a moment of fun and playfulness.  If the environment in which you find yourself is not in line with this premise, it's best to avoid taking the picture.

More Selfie Etiquette Tips

Permission to Post
If any other person is recognizable in your photo, you should make them aware of where you intend to post it and receive their permission to do so. 

And please never consider posting a photo to make someone look bad, or to demean someone.  Try to view it from the other person's perception.  What may be funny to you, could be hurtful to someone else.

Selfie Sticks
These gadgets came about to make self photos better and more convenient.  But it's difficult to appreciate them when someone swings it around, nearly knocking you out.  Always keep them in a vertical position, and if you have the adjustable height kind, only extend it when actually taking a picture.  Keep it compact when moving around or transporting it.

Selfies should be fun for everyone involved.  And they can be when you make them quick, avoid taking too many, and remain respectful to the other people in your vicinity.

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