Technology and social media have become inextricably tied up in our everyday lives, so it's perhaps to be expected that we've developed a number of etiquette rules to help bring order and consistency to our online lives. But with such guidelines in place — many of which are unwritten — it's easy to make mistakes. Is it, therefore, surprising that there are loads of selfie mistakes you're probably making? Nope — not one bit. After all, we already know that we're probably making tons of emoji mistakes and even more Snapchat mistakes; it stands to reason that we're likely messing everything else up, too. But don't worry! Most of these mistakes are easily remedied. Here's how to do it.
We all know and love the selfie, and it's not just because of everyone's favorite (or least favorite, depending on your point of view) reality television star, Kim Kardashian. The modern selfie dates back to around 2005, when the now-antiquated social media site MySpace popularized the concept of a profile picture (which, if my memory serves correctly, was just called a MySpace pic among the youths). Then, the advent of the front-facing camera gave users full control of their selfie composition, plus a convenient mirror for 10th grade me to make sure I was always looking on fleek when my crush was in the room. According to Google, the word "selfie" blew up in around 2013, when searches for the word increased exponentially in a very short period of time. Later that year, the Oxford Dictionaries added "selfie" as an official word, and the rest is history.
Because smartphone and social media selfies have been around for over 10 years, it's inevitable that in 2015, people are making some selfie-related mistakes. Here are seven things you're doing wrong with your selfies and how to fix them.
1. Your selfie co-stars your arm.
It was really cool during the MySpace era to take a full-bodied selfie portrait of yourself by holding your hand so high up that you could see not only your torso and legs, but the arm itself as well. But although this particular framing was appropriate for the time, the selfie has become more about your face, neck, and shoulders and much less about the rest of your body in recent years. So: Drop your arms about 90 degrees so they stick out in front of you and run parallel to the floor, bend your arm a little at the elbow, and voila. Much better.
2. You're angling your selfie so people can see up your nose.
If your camera is positioned so that it's facing up at you, you're not getting the most out of your selfie. Why? Because it's likely that your face is being obscured by the shadows cast by looking down at your phone. Remember the whole "make your arms run parallel to the floor" thing? The same trick will do wonders here. Stick your arm out straight, bend it up at the elbow so that the camera is in line with your face, and snap that pic.
3. You're taking mirror selfies with dirty mirrors.
I like mirror shots as much as the next selfie enthusiast, but to get as much of your face in the frame as possible, clean the gunk off your mirror! And while you're at it, make sure there's nothing reflected in the mirror that could take away from your lovely mug, like toothpaste, a toilet, or towels. Or your significant other in the shower. But, you know, no value judgement if y'all are into that kind of thing.
4. Your selfies are backlit.
Don't let this tragedy happen! Lighting is everything when it comes to photography, and selfies are no different. It takes an experienced photographer who can work exposure settings to get an effective backlit portrait — so if you're not an experienced photographer, play it safe by making sure your light source is illuminating the front of your face, not coming from behind.
5. You're taking a selfie with someone who doesn't want to take a selfie.
It's easy to be very in-the-moment with a selfie. I often see people take out their phones and exclaim, "Let's take a selfie," surprising the unsuspecting person next to them who may not be prepared for such a thing. Make sure to give your friends ample time to prepare to be in a selfie with you — and respect their wishes if they don't want to be in a selfie at all.
6. You're taking selfies at totally inappropriate moments.
Generally speaking, moments where friends or family members are talking to you about something rough they're experiencing is an inappropriate time to take a selfie. If you're at a job interview or in an otherwise professional space, it's an inappropriate time to take a selfie. If your sister is going to prison for a DUI, it's an inappropriate time to take a selfie. (I'm looking at you, Kim.)
7. Your shutter sound is on.
Need I say more? Silence your phone, bae.
You got this.