Perhaps like many of you, I have a complicated relationship with selfies. Sometimes I like them; sometimes I don't. And my view of selfies just got another shake. Now it seems we have to contend with a new menace: the Ambush Selfie.
a complicated relationship with selfies
I started putting myself in self-taken photos with friends and family -- I called them buddy shots -- more than 20 years ago. I figured old-age-home orderlies could point me out in my old pictures and say, "See? Those people were your friends" or "those are your relatives," and "that's you."
Buddy shots became even more fun when the Internet and Facebook were invented. Self-taken photos of just me started in 2008, when I started Beautygeeks. (The word "selfie" hadn't yet been born.) As I explained to my dad once, I was the only face available to me for documenting an occasional makeup thing or umbrella success.
But the more selfies I took, the more conflicted about them I became.
reminder: a selfie is worth a thousand words
I can't get past what I read as the underlying message of selfie after selfie after selfie. Some columnist said she likes selfies as a way to say, "I like my hair today" without actually saying it. She's forgotten the phrase "a picture is a worth a thousand words." As I see it, a selfie doesn't say "I like my hair today" -- it shouts it.
Although I rarely take them now, I still enjoy buddy photos, though. "Group selfies" in current jargon, they're totally fun with friends (above: a throw-back to 2008 with Fashion Magazine beauty director Lesa Hannah -- time for a new one, Hannah!). And my not-so-inner fan-girl likes her keepsakes of interviews with Estella Warren, Candace Bushnell, Chris Noth, Leighton Meester, Carmindy, Rob Lowe, Carly Rae Jepson, and Christina Hendricks.
But something has happened to upset my concept of buddy photos. Okay, this sharing-lice thing is gross, but that's not what I mean.
I mean something I'm calling the Ambush Selfie.
the ambush selfie
One day I was at a press event, mid-conversation with a couple of people. Suddenly, someone jammed up against my left side, iPhone out in front, and with "OMG, we're totally getting a selfie!" snapped a shot.
Yep, out of the blue, someone ran up to me and took a selfie with me in it. Like we were buddies. I wasn't asked to be in it. It just happened. Without my permission. Barely with my co-operation. I seemed okay about it because it was done before I'd finished processing. Plus I tend toward politeness in most situations.
Ambush selfie. That's what I've been calling it since it happened.
The culprit didn't post the ambush selfie anywhere, so I can't show it to you. I wouldn't either, unless I'd felt comfortable enough to discuss the issue with that person. But as of my writing this, the perpetrator doesn't yet know how I feel about the experience. Ambushed.
Recreating the ambush selfie with my sister was a hoot. (You know Karen Falcon as our Mani-Geek.) Turns out she's a method actor: she had to stand two feet away, then rush in with her iPhone and snap. My bewildered expression is a fail; I'm a terrible actor. But these silly sister-selfies were fun, captured between bouts of uncontrollable laughter. So maybe I can thank the ambush selfie perp for that. #Pollyanna
UPDATE: I don't have an ambush solution, not really. My friend Tania Kwong, beauty editor at glow, has also been a victim of the ambush selfie. Turns out she doesn't know what to do about it either. In retrospect, I could have stepped away and spoken quietly with the ambush selfie perp immediately afterward, but I was so shocked that I couldn't act. And honestly, I don't think the selfie was taken with sinister intention. But I won't let it happen again.
UPDATE 29May14: Ricky Gervais victim of ambush selfie at the urinal! See??
How do you feel about selfies? Have you ever been a victim of an ambush selfie? What's your take? What would you do?