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'Selfies' takes center stage on social media - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

'Selfies' takes center stage on social media

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Selfies: Odds are you've seen one and possibly taken one. They are all over social media and there's no sign of stopping this growing trend of self-photography.

"It's a great way to share yourself!" said Mieko Ozeki of Burlington.

"All the time it's either Facebook or Snapchat; it's always someone's face with a weird comment," said Jason Pope of Burlington.

There's a difference between a picture of yourself and a selfie. You take the selfie by holding your phone out and pointing it at yourself. And then once you find the one you want, it's yours to post however you want. Some people post about where they are, who they are with, something silly or how they are feeling. The term selfie is one of the most commonly searched words on Google. There are more than 33 million selfies on Instagram alone.

"Selfies started around 2004 on Flickr and MySpace, so it started in the entertainment and lifestyle industry," said Alexandra Tursi, a social media expert.

Tursi says celebrities got into taking pictures of themselves and it had a ripple effect throughout the world.

"When I have this awesome moment, when I'm in a great place or I'm really happy and I want to share the moment," Ozeki said.

"I think it's potentially positive, but like a lot of good things it can potentially be overused," said Dr. David Rettew, a psychiatrist.

Rettew says selfies gratify basic human desires-- control and validation.

"You get a number; you know exactly how many Twitter followers you have and how many likes you get on Facebook. That can get somebody's competitive juices going. You see that number you want to increase it," he explained.

Experts say these images have started a lifestyle narrative, telling your personal story online. A way of creating a self-brand. The thing is not everyone has been schooled on brand management.

"If you are applying for a job and someone Googles you and a selfie comes up that might not be flattering or appropriate that can become a challenge for you," Tursi said. "It's really thinking about how and why instead of good versus bad."

They can go too far. Case in point-- the scandal surrounding former congressman and candidate for New York City mayor Anthony Weiner and his racy selfies. Dr. Rettew says the habit can be unhealthy and self-absorbing at some points.

"When it becomes very unidirectional," he explained. "So, if all somebody is doing is posting pictures of themselves or describing their life and not spending any time trying to get to know other people."

"Andy Warhol said that we all have our 15 minutes of fame and I think today it's 15 seconds of fame, and a selfie is a great way to have 15 seconds of fame," Tursi said.

If selfies were a traded commodity on the stock market you might say things are looking up!

Rettew says social media makes it easier for people who struggle in social settings to express their feelings, but he encourages families to have conversations about online behavior to make sure problems don't arise down the road.

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