Keep ‘selfie’ culture at arm’s length

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

Do we really need an app to encourage people to take more selfies?

Well, the obvious answer is no, we don’t. Unfortunately, we’ve got one anyway.

Frontback combines pictures of what a person is seeing and their reaction, using both the front and rear cameras in some devices to take both shots at the same time, before combining them into one tidy little image that can be shared on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

OK, so it is quite a clever idea but good lord, do we really to give the selfie-addicted more opportunities to overshare?

There are already far too many people out there who just can’t help but take one of those “hold-the-camera-at-arm’s- length” images to share on Facebook every time they go out with friends, go shopping, or even simply successfully leave the house with matching shoes and their underwear on the right way.

Or after spending a bomb on buying the phone with the best camera, they chuck the pictures on Instagram with trendy filters to make them look like some craptacular photo taken with a 20-year-old point-and-shoot camera.

Then they go on holiday with their fancy-schmancy mobile devices and take lots of snaps of interesting things but because they are taking a selfie instead of getting their travelling companion to take the photo like us old people do, and their arms aren’t 2m long, you can’t see the interesting things in their photos.

All you can see is the aforementioned selfie-taker, either smiling like an idiot in their perfected selfie pose or trying to look all moody and interesting (but usually looking more constipated than anything else).

According to the Mail Online, Frontback is “taking San Francisco by storm, and experts say it is set to ‘explode’ in popularity”.

I can see the usefulness of it, perhaps for getting a shot of a grandparent meeting their new grandchild for the first time, or the reaction of a groom as his bride walks up the aisle. Unfortunately, I suspect we’ll be seeing shots of a more hipster nature: brooding dudes and dude-ettes with their fashion- statement dark-rimmed glasses staring moodily at their hipster dinner plate. With a moody Instagram filter, of course.

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