A man poses for a selfie at a lookout point in Rio de Janeiro. Picture: Reuters

Whether you’re for or against the selfie, you cannot deny that the trend has become a global phenomenon. It has enabled us to move past geographic, societal and religious boundaries, and become part of a globally interconnected society. It is also the ultimate symbol of how much technology has impacted our lives.

Here are some intriguing facts about the selfie:

1. It’s not such a new concept

Believe it or not, the very first ‘selfie’ was taken way back in 1839 by an American photographer, Robert Cornelius. His purpose was not purely narcissistic, however, as he was taking the photo to try out a new lighting technique (that’s his excuse, anyway). Unlike the ‘quickie’ selfies of today, experts estimate that Cornelius would have had to stay in the same position for three to 15 minutes to get the shot.

2. It’s become much more social

Groupies are becoming increasingly common, especially at social gatherings and family get togethers. A groupie refers to a selfie taken as a panoramic shot, which includes a group of people, as opposed to just one individual. The groupie has become a salient feature in forging new friendships and taking snapshots of moments in time with your nearest and dearest. 

3. It’s political

During their municipal elections back in 2014, the people of the Netherlands took to social media to proudly snap selfies of themselves in the election booths with their voting ballots, giving rise to the #stemfie. This is frowned upon in most of the world, however, including SA, citing the fact that it goes against the ballot requirements of secrecy. 

This has not deterred people, though, and many still take selfies outside voting centres to show their pride in their democracy. SA’s special version of the #stemfie is the election thumb selfie, where we flaunt our inked thumbs. In India’s recent elections, there were even competitions for the best election selfie to encourage more people to vote.

4. It’s scientific

Stanford computer scientist, Dr Andrej Karpathy, says there is in fact a formula for the perfect selfie. You must:

  • Follow the rule of thirds (your face should only take up a third of the photo).
  • Tilt your face to catch the right lighting (up for men, down for women).
  • Take the photo from a centre or top-down angle.
  • Avoid any shadows and ensure that there isn’t more than one primary source of light.
  • Use a filter (there’s no shame – that’s what they’re there for).

5. It’s not just for humans

Mankind isn’t the only species that loves a good selfie. Back in 2011, wildlife photographer David Slater left his camera unattended in an Indonesian jungle. A mischievous monkey took advantage and snapped a grinning selfie, instantly becoming a viral sensation. However, when the image was included in Slater’s book, “Wildlife Personalities”, animal rights group PETA sued Slater for infringing the monkey’s copyright (yes, you read that correctly). Three years later in 2018 the case was finally settled when the appeal court found that America’s Copyright Act did not include animals, and criticised PETA for exploiting the monkey for their own agenda.

6. It’s great to get those endorphins pumping

Our ability to snap a selfie or groupie at any second of the day helps us create rich and special memories, especially when they depict us smiling and having fun with loved ones. According to some psychologists, the nostalgia caused by looking through these photos can cause a spike in your “happiness chemicals” or endorphins, which are responsible for those elevated moods.

Clearly, selfies are an instrumental part of society, so wouldn’t you want your selfie to be of the best possible quality? The new Huawei P30 lite’s 32MP camera is comprised of its 24MP high resolution camera and its 8MP camera. The phone’s AI beautification settings makes it a selfie superstar camera, which allows you to take the best possible self-portraits. The Huawei P30 series is the first smartphone range to feature a 32MP selfie camera.