How to Take A Selfie

New York Magazine wrote a fascinating article back in 2007 (2007! VINTAGE!) about our generation’s willingness to expose ourselves online.

“As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet,” reads the story’s tagline, “the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited.”

The future belongs to the uninhibited.

That’s pretty powerful. It’s also fairly alarming. If it’s true, then it means that these selfies we take could make or break us.

Now, I consider myself somewhere on the cusp of my generation AT LEAST in regards to digital life. I had a Myspace, I have a Facebook. I’m on Instagram, Twitter, and hi — I work for a website. But I’m also fifteen years older than my cousins who also have Instagram. FIFTEEN YEARS OLDER. They grew up with an inherent understanding of these things, whereas anyone in my age group had to learn them. It pains to call myself a technology immigrant but it’s true. And they’re the natives.

Yes, to them, I am a dinosaur with an iPhone.

But I am also wise. If not because my age compared to theirs demands it, then certainly because I have lived through digital trial and error. I’ve been the bearer of bad news to more than one friend who didn’t realize that her Photoshop was showing in her profile pic. I scrolled through in horror at cleavage shots and duck faces. Even I, Yoda of the self-portrait, have posted some extremely offensive pictures. My first FB pic was a closeup of my face in black and white. Except for my eyes. Those were left blue. I know, I’m sorry you have to know me.

So if NY Mag is right and the future belongs to the uninhibited, then I feel it’s my duty to impart all the wisdom I’ve culled onto my cousins and their friends. And with that, I present The Rules of The Selfie, a guide to taking a self portrait intended for public viewing. (If you’re sending a selfie to a friend then all bets are off.) We’re going to do it anyway, may as well do it right.

The Rules of The Selfie

1. Be clothed.

2. If you choose to take a selfie sans makeup, do not qualify it with the hashtag #nomakeup, or with a caption such as, “LOL no makeup so uglyy.” The fine print of posting this picture reads, “I look really pretty without makeup and want you to know  it.”

3. If you’re going to pretend that this is not a selfie, just make sure there’s no evidence. You’ve seen all the people taking failed sleeping selfies, right?

4. Actually let’s avoid what shall now be called “The Sleeper” altogether, shall we?

5. Emo had a really serious moment back in the heyday of Myspace. But today is not this day. Chin up, angel face. Take your selfies with a smile.

6. OK FINE. If you’re feeling a little downward spiral-y, you’ve already busted out the old Brand New and need a pic to prove it, just make sure your caption below is really on point. Example: “Soco amaretto SELFIE.” #nailedit

7. Selfies with friends may not technically be considered a selfie, but in our definition, if you’re holding your own camera, it’s a selfie. Throwing friends in the equation is an easy way to share how good you look this day without blatant bragging.

8. ADD AN ANIMAL! Any time I’m having a good hair day I find an animal and take a selfie. Then I make the caption something like, “Omg Butters is soooo cute! #frenchie #woof.” Furry mammals are Insta-bait. You’re basically blind-siding everyone.

9. We don’t like to tell you what not to do because we aren’t your mama, so if you must do a kissy face (I get it, makes the cheek bones look rull good)…then as per rule #5, make sure your caption kills it. I literally have no clue what a good caption would be for this so leave your suggestions in the comments.

10. The most important rule to taking a selfie is to OWN IT. Your face, your phone, your life. If others don’t like it there’s a gummy little button where they can click to unfollow.

Now what about you guys? What are your rules? What should one always do, what should one never do?  What about selfie pet peeves? And how often is it okay to post? The more we know, the faster we grow.

Ok, time to take a selfie, bye!

  • kellidanielle

    This article makes me happy because I’m being emo today and have been listening to Brand New all morning! It really never gets old.

  • Iliyana Licheva

    love it! the rule N1 – awesome! always wear clothes!

  • Elena


  • Lefukaka

    #9… #duckface if Mona Lisa can do it, #kosher.

  • Mackenzie Blair

    Selfie pet peeve… Mirror selfies at the gym with a #fitgirl and/or #shesquats. You work out, WE GET IT.

  • Rebeka Osborne

    Soco amaretto SELFIE = totally genius! I love all of these, especially number two. I hate hate hate when people put up selfies and then say “I look so ugly” because, it’s not like you only have one chance to take a selfie, keep clicking until you get a good one, duh!

  • Thea Neal

    “Cheek bonez that #cutglass! #fierce #reginageorge”

  • Albert
  • Amatoria Clothing

    I feel that selfies should not be taken seriously.
    Also, there’s not reason to post a selfie to tell the world you are having Mac N Cheese for dinner, when there is no trace of said Mac N Cheese in your selfie. Don’t make dumb excuses!

  • Miss Detroit

    LOL Soco Amaretto selfie. BEST REFERENCE EVER! I think I might need to use that on my next Insta-Selfie

  • Failed “sleeping selfies” ahaha. Omg.

    Those are the best.

  • Elora Dannon

    I just can’t help but think of Narcissus staring into the water when I see selfies. They are narcissistic and self-conscious,

  • Eileen Willows

    Seems to be a selfie manual in every major mag this month. All hail the selfie I say.

  • Diana D

    Please don’t make the same exact facial expression in every selfie, ESP. when you post them frequently. Change it up if you are going to subject me to all of those pictures of your face. Exception: post a bunch with the same expression and caption the last one #bluesteel

    • Diana D

      Correction: caption them all #bluesteel and the final one (which should ideally be posted a few suspenseful days after the rest) #magnum

  • Mindy Erazo

    This whole article…#nailedit

  • rock of eden

    This is funny. No bathroom selfies!! 🙂

  • Ari

    This article. wow! it really made me glad someone is here to point out the selfie rules. Really good 🙂

  • Jenna Cole

    I take the occasional selfie, I admit, but my best friend posts at least one a day. It’s insane! She’s the kind of person who will caption a photo of herself in her “yoga shorts,” aka underpants with an, “Ew, just found a spider in my room!” No spider in the picture, just her half naked self. If you are going to take a selfie, you better own it, or I will make fun of you, Because I am an asshole.

  • Marcia McDevitt

    Small children work just as well as animals, for the record.

  • veblenhigh23

    selfies are acceptable to share but please, world, no more food selfless! i know what a pb&j sandwich looks like my friend, no one wants to see yours @

    • sam_the_cat

      Yeah, I especially like it when people use Instagram filters for their food pics. That Kelvin filter sure is making your meatloaf look appetizing!

  • Kay Bug

    Keep yourself in the selfie! Too many make their profile not of them, but of their child/pet/food/political meme. I’m friended with YOU and want to know what you are up to, not your ice cream. I love hearing about your kid(s) or your pet(s), but they aren’t solely what defines you. What are YOU up to, the whole kit and caboodle?

  • Celene

    hahah! loved it