If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Rise of the Selfies

An article in TIME, Sept. 1, 2014, by Jeffrey Kluger stated “We’re all born to adore ourselves, but not all of us grow up.” In the article, Kruger sites Developmental psychologist Mark Barnett of Kansas State University who states “It’s an evolutionary imperative for babies to be selfish and narcissistic at birth in order to get their needs met.” It was an interesting article that shows children start to grow out of this narcissism by kindergarten . . . mostly. Unfortunately, some never do. In the issue there was also a partial personality inventory “Are You a Narcissist? I took it and I am not, which didn’t surprise me. I’m uncomfortable being the center of attention.

The article and the darling picture of a little girl admiring herself in a mirror, made me think of the selfies that have become so popular. And when I read in the newspaper about someone at a sporting event in England taking a selfie of themself that somehow included Her Royal Highness, who was then quoted as saying she was not amused, I wondered how others thought of this rise of selfies. Obviously, the Queen doesn’t think much of it, but other famous people seem to be cool with it – even Pope Francis.
It’s not exactly a new phenomenon. Artists for centuries have been painting self-portraits and wealthy people have hired artists to paint them or a family member, and with the invention of photography, individual and family pictures were taken by a photographer. With the advent of cheaper cameras, almost everyone had one and took pictures, but not of themselves, unless they had a camera that could be timed long enough for the photographer to hurry and get in place with a group being photographed. Most pictures of ourselves were taken by others.

But now we live in the age of the selfie; a fast self-portrait showing where you are, what you’re doing, and who we think we are, according to Jerry Saltz in his article “Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie in  Vulture. Unlike portraits done by professionals in the past, these are done by amateurs and he feels “most selfies are silly, typical and boring; guys flexing muscles, girls making pouty lips (‘duckface’), people mugging in bars, posing with monuments or someone famous like Queen Elizabeth, for instance, who was not amused.

In another article in Aljazeera America, Jared Keller writes “Some social psychologists read serious meaning into the selfie, seeing it as a positive mode of identity formation and an important way of presenting and reinforcing a personal image on the Web’s vast social stage.”

Molly Fosco in the Huffington Post thinks “The harshly judged practice of self-picture taking, while perhaps excessive or annoying at times can actually be a really simple way to feel really good about yourself.” Apparently, in her opinion, it helps raise one’s self esteem.

Others view the selfie as an extension of modern narcissism. In Psychology Today Cornell professor of psychology, Peggy Drexler writes “selfie subjects feel as though they’re starring in their own reality shows with an inflated sense of self that allows them to believe their friends or followers are interested in seeing them lying in bed, lips pursed, in a real world head shot. It’s like looking in a mirror all day long and letting others see you doing it.

Some statistics: Women take far more self-portraits then men (4.6 times as many in Moscow.) People are more likely to be smiling in Bangkok or Sao Paulo than Moscow or Berlin. The estimated average age of people taking selfies is 23.7 with New York City the oldest average age of 25.3 in the five cities analyzed.  I’m sure more and more on this topic is now or will be studied. I saw one article that I didn’t bother to read about selfies and mental illness. Maybe I should go back and read it.

At the end of Jared Keller’s article, he asks if selfies are a benign positive form of expression and self-promotion, or a more ominous cry for attention. But he thinks the answer to this question may have to await a larger base study in the future to find out if these casual acts of self-love are positive or negative.

For a blog on forgetfulness I did a while back, I tried to take several pictures of myself with my camera. They were all so horrible I deleted them. Even if I had a phone that takes pictures, I’m quite sure I’d never take one of myself.

How about you? Have you taken any selfies?

What do you think about so many people taking selfies today?

Do you think it’s a good trend or not?


E. B. Davis said...

We seem to be obsessed with self. It's a sign of our narcissistic times. Self expression used to involve work. We cooked a fine meal, painted, designed, wrote, etc. to fulfill ourselves. Selfies to me only show immaturity, nothing required.

Modesty and service to others used to be valued. Not as much now. Some people think those who volunteer are suckers. But service to others can also be taken to the extreme. In a different era fulfilling one's own dreams was looked at as selfish. Self-sacrifice was expected. As usual in this country, we go from one extreme to the other.

I don't need to read about details of trips or other life events on Facebook or see selfie pictures posted on Twitter. Self-promotion doesn't have much to do with "products" anymore. We sell ourselves, make ourselves into products. Does that equate to self-worth? Materialism at its finest. But at what cost?

Gloria Alden said...

E.B. I agree with you. Besides the time glut that I don't want to deal with, it' another reason why I don't twitter and don't go on Facebook very often. Just keeping up with emails is hard for me to do.

Fortunately, I haven't noticed that people don't value those who serve. I know our newspaper seems to always doing articles on those who do, and I'm pleased to read about so many teens and even children who are doing things to help others. I wonder if my experience is different than yours because of where I live in NE Ohio and not in a large metropolis.

Jim Jackson said...

I rarely do selfies -- and when I do it's using the timed delay feature of my camera, sitting on a tripod so I can join a family picture. Sometimes on trips I'll ask someone to take a picture of Jan and me.

Other people's selfies don't bother me. I mostly ignore them.

While Elaine has some valid points, the so-called "me generation" is mine and I'm sure we would have participated the same way today's generation does is self-talk if film hadn't been so expensive and we were stuck with party-lines for our land-line phones and Al Gore hadn't yet invented the internet.

Frankly, I'm more worried about people who think they have the only truth and want to force it down my throat than people who want to tell me what they are eating, like right now...

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

Who is forcing their truth down your throat, Jim? Just curious. I see things on Facebook all the time that I don't agree with, but people are allowed to have opinions other than mine. Like selfies, it is a form of self expression. I don't "un-friend" them if I don't agree. I agree to disagree--don't you agree?

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, fortunately, I don't run into many people like you describe, however I do read and hear about them. It's one of the reasons my radio station is NPR and what little TV I watch is on PBS. I could never stomach what I've heard is on talk radio. Years ago before I discovered NPR, I used to wake up to a local radio station with people calling in about various topics. Their rantings, mostly political in nature, upset me so much, that once I called and gave a rebuttal. After that I no longer listened to that morning station. In the letters to the editor column on Sundays, there is one woman, who always has so many negative things to say that I look for the signature first and when it's her, I don't read her letter.

KM Rockwood said...

I like the handful of inadvertent animal selfies that people have put on the internet.

Like the time a wildlife camera disappeared, only to be found miles away with pictures of an eagle removing it from its moorings. Most of the pictures show the eagle's wings or feet, but one of them is a great selfie when the eagle examines it with its beak.

Another is the monkey who got hold of a wildlife photographer's camera and took some pictures. There's now a dispute over whether the pictures are the work of the photographer, and thus copyrighted to him, or the monkey, in which case they are in the public domain. Turns out it's the monkey.

A family dropped a phone with camera capabilities during a car "safari" through a wildlife park, and when the staff retrieved it, there were some "selfies" from curious inhabitants.

Jim Jackson said...


I should have said attempting to force their truth down my throat. And the reference is to those who believe their religion is the only true religion and their sense of patriotism the only true way to be a patriot.

For example, recently at a Winter Garden commission meeting the leader had the police remove someone because they refused to stand up for the pledge of allegiance and a clearly Christian prayer. This despite Supreme Court rulings indicating the gentleman's behavior is permissible under free speech.

I have no problem with people holding different opinions than I -- understanding differences allows me to hone my understanding, frequently it allows me to see my narrow way of looking at things was not accurate. Sometimes it allows me to sharpen my perspective and arguments and resolve.

But radicals (right or left) know only their own truth and want to force it to be everyone's. That I will not abide--as long as I am able.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

Kathleen, I think those would be funny. Actually, I've been in a few selfies when my daughter wanted a picture of us on a ferry in San Francisco Bay or a few other places.

Jim, I totally agree with you on that about religion. I have my own beliefs, but would never force them on someone else. I see much of the problems in the world today due to religious intolerance. Take the middle-east, for instance, and there are those in this country, who believe that only their religion should be the one and only in our country.

Shari Randall said...

Well, since I just returned from a trip and was in several selfies with my husband, I will attempt to draw a distinction between those "tourist selfies" and the selfie-selfie (and Gloria - you found some good example photos! that last one - yikes! hope it was done in jest)
I agree with E. B. - we do live in narcissistic times. I blame the internet (and by extension, Al Gore, right Jim? ;) The currency of the internet is visual.
On my trip I noticed people in the Sistine Chapel - the Sistine Chapel! - who never looked around because they were so engrossed in their smartphone screens. Except when they took a selfie with it.
Interesting that spellcheck tries to turn "selfie" into "selfless."

Gloria Alden said...

Shari, I had fun going through all the images, and like you, I'm hoping it was a joke. It probably was.

I think you're right, Shari. My California daughter recently had her niece, who had just graduated from high school, out to visit. She paid for everything and was disappointed because her niece was always engrossed in her smartphone screen. She'd look at things just long enough to see if it was worth taking a picture of it. I'm thinking it's more an age thing, because my granddaughter is a sweet girl and volunteers for mission work, etc.and helps out with her mother's daycare business whenever asked.

Kara Cerise said...

I think a narcissist who constantly takes selfies would make a great character, Gloria.

I've noticed that some teens and young adults know just how to pose for the camera. (Right hand on hip, left ankle crossed over right ankle, head tilted slightly down and to the left, eyes looking up.) They can dramatically pout or cringe on cue, too.

Gloria Alden said...

Kara, I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. I'll consider that for a short story or maybe in my next book since I just finished my fourth, it's too late for that.

Actually, Kara, when I was researching this, there were articles telling you how to pose. I din't bother reading them because I wasn't interested. I think it's rather funny. Hopefully, they'll grow out of it. Could you imagine us doing that? :-)