Service of A Perfect Word of the Year: Selfie

November 21st, 2013

Categories: Self Promotion, Words

Oxford English Dictionary

The “Oxford English Dictionary” publishers have it right. They chose “selfie”—a photo you take of yourself to post on social media–as the word of the year.

What a perfect symbol of the “I’m the only important person in the world, look at me” attitude rampant these days.

I heard about the word choice on the day I held open a bank door for a 40-something well-dressed woman who sailed by without a grunt of acknowledgement and moments later, while crossing First Avenue, a bicyclist missed hitting me by the width of a slice of paper. Along with me she also ignored the traffic light and stopped only when a car crossed in front of her.

Selfie in carSpeaking of traffic, it’s no surprise that selfie practitioners are a danger to other drivers, passengers and pedestrians. There seems to be a trend, if not a premium, to post self-portraits shot behind the wheel. What more vivid example of selfishness is there?

My fuse is increasingly short with the takers who keep on asking me for favors, show zero gratitude and don’t even fake support of any of my initiatives. The list is growing–two instances just this week. The sad thing: I love helping others; I don’t like feeling used.

How does such a mindset affect service? What will it take to turn society away from a selfie world? Am I hopelessly out of step and instead of fighting should I join the trend? What about you?

self centered table

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6 Responses to “Service of A Perfect Word of the Year: Selfie”

  1. Deborah Brown Said:

    “Selfies” appear to be the newest version of the 70’s and 80’s “Me Generation” followed by “Instant gratification” and “never trust anyone over 30”. Frankly, I thought “twirking” was going to be the new word of the year. Perhaps both Selfie (thank you Mr. Weiner!) and twirking speak volumes about today’s culture. (Or lack of it!)

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    When it comes to selfish behavior between strangers in public places–not making room or moving to the back so others can pass by on a bus or on narrow sidewalks–I wonder if anger ignites the Selfie attitude.

    However, it’s not anger when adults [who are not friends] ask for inappropriate help/information countless times without a whisper of reciprocation, most of which would cost them nothing tangible. I wonder if they ask their dentist for free fillings or their doctor for a free EKG or their dermatologist for free Botox treatments or their shoe repair or dry cleaners for free work. When it comes to a service business, I can attest that they don’t blink! That behavior is 100 percent Selfie.

  3. Hester Craddock Said:

    Looking at “All Creatures Great and Small” last night, I wondered why I find this gentle story about a veterinary practice in the Yorkshire Dales during the miserable 1940s often deeply moving. Not all the characters are “good guys,” and even the “good guys” have faults. Not all of the animals are cured; some of them are put down or die.

    I think I now know the reason. You put you finger on it. I was still a child, but I remember living part of the time in Italy during those bitter, unhappy years; how there were shortages of almost everything, and how so many innocent people needlessly died. But then, the one thing that our society loathed was a Selfie. The vets in “All Creatures…” were not Selfies.

    Now, especially, I think, in New York, we idolize the “go-getter,” the street fighter who would kill to get to the top, in a word, the Selfie. Only a week or two ago, one of my doctors implied that I was a wimp, because I wasn’t being aggressive enough in my effort to obtain copies of some medical records. He was right. I am a wimp. I prefer being a wimp.

    Give me the 1940s any time.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I love that program, the fashion and home decor of the period [though that’s not the point of the show] but I wouldn’t want to go back to that period. For example were it not for modern medicine many people I know and love might not be here today.

    There’s no reason people can’t learn to be civilized, especially those of us who live squished into a city. It’s essential and we’ve done it before.

    I think you need to put a bit of Windex on your rose colored glasses. You alluded to the horrors of that period…you may not have realized how bad things were for many, the cruelty, because you were a child and the adults may have protected you. I also assume that you were among the more fortunate at the time. I’m not sure coal miners and scullery maids appreciated the manners of the period that much.

    There have always been selfies…maybe we celebrate them today more than in the 1940s so we think that there are more of them. It’s similar to the question of whether there are more rapes today than before or is it that people report them now when they didn’t before.

    I don’t think that asking for something that’s yours relates to being a street fighter or a selfie. I also don’t think that to be caring and considerate of others means you must be a wimp. There is some middle ground.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Much depends upon how this term is used. I am a blatant selfie, with the obligation to look after myself and to protect my interests. The Oxford interpretation of that term is dead wrong, since those taking shots of themselves while driving are merely idiots acting in total disregard of their safety, let alone that of others.

    The general public is taught to be scared of “selfies” since they are usually independent and free of the shackles of popular opinion. It’s sad, but not surprising that Oxford, in an effort to sell its wares, follows suit.

    If humanity had not started out as groups of selfies, it’s doubtful it could have survived, considering the dangers facing it in its infancy.

    Shame on the Oxford Dictionary! It is in sore need of an editing staff with a greater understanding of human nature. If we are inspired into becoming lemmings as this authority suggests, we will peter out, and at no great loss to anyone.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m all for independent spirit and thought. If an adult doesn’t look after his/her interests, nobody else will and many children find themselves with the same challenges.

    But an over-the-top selfie is, as you note, a lemming, doing what everyone else does even at risk of life. I left out that side effect from the post and am glad you took note.

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