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Isha Singh Sawhney
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Isha Singh Sawhney is a writer, musafir and obsessive people watcher. She loves seeing new places and hates leaving them.

Selfphenomenon hits new levels of crazy

The toothache pose has become popular in Japan.

hances are, you haven't heard of mushiba mitaina poozu or "cavity hurts" pose. The Japanese, constantly burdened with a burning need to be zeitgeists, have discarded the sparrow face and the duck face, for the toothache pose, for is propensity to make you look thinner.

Crazier still, are the spate of selfie deaths and accidents that took over the weird news section this week. A Polish couple died when they fell of a hillside, while taking a selfie. A young Mexican accidentally shot himself in the head, while taking a selfie. Another got trampled by a bull, while taking a selfie in the middle of a festival in Fêtes de Bayonne in southern France. Meanwhile, the number of Instagram pictures hashtagged #drivingselfie, have forced both Ford and Toyota to launch campaigns that discourage people from taking selfies while behind the wheel. Meanwhile, the UAE government regularly fines drivers who take selfies while hurtling down high speed motorways.

Tragic stories aside, statistics claim 30% of pictures taken by people ages 18 to 24 are of themselves. If 2013 was the year of the selfie, with its introduction into the Oxford Dictionary, then 2014 saw its wholehearted acceptance into mainstream, with Obama posing with European counterparts David Cameron and Helle Thorning Schmidt at Mandela's funeral, making the inter-web meme Selfies at Funerals a whole movement, and the Pope in a group selfie created the need for a word for group selfies — the "usie".

Back home, NaMo's penchant for turning the lens on himself, is clearly an essential part of his PR campaign, to endear a whole jaded generation towards him.

ig brands have jumped lock, stock and barrel onto the bandwagon, using the trend to launch campaigns of all colours and sizes. Kim Kardashian, the mother of all brands, has funnelled her expertise into a tome of selfies called "Selfish". Fashion labels use selfies to encourage young girls, who function under the pressure of never repeating clothes, to buy their clothes and take pictures of themselves in them. Whisper's latest take a selfie #Touchthepickle campaign, despite its weirdly suggestive name, is just another in a long list of businesses make moolah off this seemingly unstoppable trend. 

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Big brands have jumped lock, stock and barrel onto the bandwagon, using the trend to launch campaigns of all colours and sizes.

For those for whom the seriousness of bad quality, no-flash selfies is very real, Karbonn has launched a selfie phone, and Sony Xperia has upgraded their existing model with a PROselfie cam — which comes loaded with apps and a 5 MP camera facing the user. And if you've found yourself struggling to find the longest arm to take a photograph, there's always the selfie stick. Post-production has gone pro with the existence of 970 apps in the iTunes app store for selfie airbrushing, to make your pictures media ready. Selfie schools up the amp from Youtube's viral money making How To Take A Selfie videos.

The "Selfie" song with its mind-numbing beats and even more vacuous staccato lyrics is so popular that Universal Music has even launched the selfie album.

Can you guys help me pick a filter?
I don't know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia
I wanna look tan
What should my caption be?
I want it to be clever
How about "Livin' with my bitches, hash tag LIVE"
I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes
Do you think I should take it down?
Let me take another selfie.

Allen Ginsberg's famous line " I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked..." could well be referring to the madness of millennials consumed by taking pictures of their own faces, in various stages of extreme self-awareness.

Digital media's fluidity affords us the freedom to "try" out different personalities. Our contrived images and contorted, self-conscious pictures are a way to document our day, and then share these images in whatever way we choose fit. A lot hinges on those choices. Too much, and you can get unfollowed in a split second. Not arty enough, you get judged for irrelevance. Too serious and you're out for not being sardonic. The hashtag of "selfies" itself has come to represent a sense of defensive, taking the onus of "this is a picture of me" out of the equation.

 
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