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City Pulse: Stop, strike a pose - selfie

By bianca r. montes
Jan. 22, 2014 at 2:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2014 at 7:23 p.m.

Reporter Bianca Montes takes a selfie. A selfie is a photograph that one takes of themself and was Oxford Dictionaries' word for the year for 2013. Duck lips are not required.

If asked which was the most self-obsessed generation to date, we'd all probably say this one.

The millennials.

After all, our narcissism is plastered all over social media sites, such as Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

Looking at my posts this week, I've told the some 600 people on my friends list that my sister sent me a designer scarf - yes, it's fabulous - I bought myself an expensive new bed, and on Monday, I accomplished a mundane list of chores.

Throw in the thousands of photos I've posted of myself, my food and the random idiocrasies of my life, and I'd easily say I was a little too self-involved.

However, if we were to walk down history lane, we'd realize this generation isn't the first to want to chronicle its life.

A new exhibit at The Nave Museum depicts the selfie from as far back as cavemen painting their story on walls.

The exhibit is part of a three-part installment that details regional portraits of pioneers, founders, leaders and the movers and shakers of the area. The exhibit begins with hand-painted portraits of several well-known names in Victoria, such as the O'Connor family.

Curator Gary Dunnam said the idea of the display is to give the public the opportunity to put faces with names.

"Victoria has such a vibrant local history," he said. "In many ways, we're losing touch with it."

In theme with the exhibit, co-curator Trent Thigpen included a multimedia gallery of selfies submitted to the museum.

"The people that live here today are just as significant as people from the past," he said about the decision to include the display.

What makes it art, he said, is that the person who took the selfie chose the composition and how they wanted to portray themselves, and that is art.

Trina Gordon, psychology professor with the University of Houston-Victoria, said, "In history, we all want people to perceive us in a certain way - usually in a positive light.

"I don't think it's a new thing; back in the day, people would tend to write their innermost thoughts in diaries."

The selfie, she said, just gives us the visual opportunity to present ourselves in a light more favorable than others might see us.

"It's almost as if they are trying to take control of how others see them," Gordon said. "They are trying to take some type of control over how they're perceived."

Rather than someone telling them who they are, she said, they will show them.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the idea of building your own self confidence," she said. "We tend to want to look for validation from others, and selfies can provide that opportunity."



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