Half a decade ago, selfies were boomer shorthand for the narcissistic self-indulgence of young people. These days, the general consensus is that sharing a picture of your face with the internet is fine and normal, which it should be. There's a pandemic going on outside. iPhone cameras are crazy good now, plus we have access to ring lights. It's actually a disservice not to take selfies. How else would anyone remember anyone else’s face?
But selfies say more than just “here is my face”. On Instagram – where many of our selfies live – they reveal secrets about our personality, what we're into, the vibe we're giving off, our most fundamental drives. Selfies might be a lot like looking into a mirror – but the final product reveals more than just a physical reflection.
So, what does your selfie say about you? Well:
SELFIE OF YOU HOLDING UP A BEER AND/OR IN FRONT OF A FUNNY SIGN
You are a cis man in your mid-twenties to early thirties, meaning you feel uncomfortable posing for selfies in general, but are too young to give up social media entirely. (You tried to take a mirror selfie once when you got that new Puffa jacket, but none of them looked right and you ended up deleting all 17 attempts, embarrassed.) The rest of your grid are pics of friends' dogs or mates at festivals or new books. Any other pics of your face are ones that your girlfriend took when you were out for dinner because she knows your angles, even if you don't.
LO-FI SELFIE IN A DIRTY MIRROR WITH A DEADPAN EXPRESSION
You're originally from the suburbs but have “nyc artist” in your bio, all lowercase. You studied something like “Abstract Moving Image” at college but dropped out after two months because your “practice didn't lend itself to academia”. Your parents are rich. The rest of your grid is all weird car number plates and discarded shoes on the street and gross zoomed-in food pics, no filter. You tell people you used to have a coke habit, but really it was just three heavy weekends in a row.
DEWY-FACED SELFIE USING A RING LIGHT, FACETUNED WITHIN AN INCH OF ITS LIFE
You've spent most of the pandemic in either Dubai, Tuscany or Cyprus. Every photo is you by a swimming pool or on a crisp white hotel bed or at a tapas bar eating shellfish alongside a caption like #freshfromthesea. Nobody's quite sure how you made all this money, but you have “entrepreneur” in your bio and #AD on every other post. Every Halloween you dress as Amanda Seyfriend dressed as Karen dressed as a mouse and you have perfected “applying cheek highlighter” to an absolute art form. Nobody knows you have butt implants, which, fair play, they look amazing.
SELFIE IN ROUND GLASSES, SURROUNDED BY PLANTS, MULLET
“GEMINI SUN / CANCER MOON / QUEER AF / VEGAN / STRICTLY NON-MONOG / PRO-KINK / NEURODIVERSE / ANTI-FASCIST / DIY ONLY / PLANT DAD / DM FOR CONSENSUAL TAROT READINGS / STICK ‘N’ POKE / NO EMOTIONAL LABOUR PLS.” You'd like to fit more in your bio tbh, but there simply wasn't room.
BELFIE IN WARDROBE MIRROR WITH NEW UNDERWEAR
You are obviously a legend.
CANDID CRYING SELFIE ABOUT HOW SOCIAL MEDIA ISN'T REAL LIFE
You are one of two people. You are either having a hard time mental health-wise and wanted to reach out without having to send individual WhatsApps (fair). Or, you haven't had that much engagement or that many likes or follows lately, so you thought about something really, really sad (Titanic, your nan dying, that cute mole on your ex’s back), took a pic when the tears started flowing and then posted a three-paragraph caption about how it's “okay to b sad sometimes” to the tune of 1,032 likes.
SELFIE FILTERED THROUGH VSCO, BIT OF TATTOO SHOWING, TIDY ROOM IN BACKGROUND
You probably work in media or the charity sector, or in a job that pays you enough money to be able to afford one of those nice grey duvet covers and a big mirror, but not enough that you could ever buy a house. Mid to late twenties. Used to be into valium and having affairs with lecturers, but now you read The Cut and have a five-step skincare regime.
COUPLE SELFIES ONLY
“Can’t believe I get to spend my life with this one!” reads one caption. “Happy birthday to my best mate and love of my life!” reads another. “Five years of putting up with my shit, wouldn't have wanted it any other way ;-)” reads another. (It's always been five years, for some reason.) At some point, the selfies mysteriously vanish until ten months later, when the process starts up all over again, but this time with a new girlfriend or boyfriend with similar hair and facial structure.
SELFIE OF SHOES AND HAND HOLDING COFFEE
Latte in one hand, two jeaned legs from above and a caption that reads something like "Wintry Evenings” or “Great start to a cold day! [coffee emoji]”. You probably don't use Instagram much because you actually have an outside life – an active one, with dog walks and family outings and friend dates where you go to novelty cocktail bars and Secret Cinema. In other words: you're pure and good and simply haven't spent enough time on the internet to become too cynical or meta-ironic to post things that aren't just you enjoying things, like it’s 2013. Sounds quite nice to be honest.