I’m not sure whether I should be laughing or crying about this, but apparently famous museums are now offering classes on how to take the perfect selfie. I’m taking this as a sign that we’re either advancing or devolving as a species — although I’m not totally sure which it is.
Last Friday, London’s Tate Britain offered a one-off Selfie School (or #selfieschool, if you prefer) as part of their Late at Tate series. Late at Tate offers museum goers an opportunity to relax with a drink, take in a performance, and sit in on exclusive talks, as well as visit the exhibitions after hours — something which makes me really want to move back to London. This particular talk, #TateSelfieSchool, was given by social media pro Olly Lang; it schooled its students in the best tips and tricks for innovative mobile phone photography. I may not have been able to be there myself, but at least the Daily Dot’s Rob Price was, and his first-hand account of the event is definitely worth reading — but possibly not for the reasons you think.
Here’s what struck me about it: As Price ran around the Tate snapping selfies with famous works of art and other Late at Tate patrons, he noticed something peculiar happening. “At this point, even my 11 new followers and 14 likes couldn’t block out the feeling that this was all a bit empty,” he wrote. “I don’t wish to tell people how they should appreciate art, but I found myself paying far more attention to how the photo looked than the artwork itself.”
This. A thousand times this. This is the most accurate description of why I think selfies are more of a problem than a method of connection. Price continued, “By placing a lens between myself and the work, I lost the immediacy that normally gives art its power. Francis Bacon’s dominating work held no terror for me while I was busy trying to catch my reflection in the glass.” Being so absorbed in capturing the moments that make up your life in selfie form have a tendency to take you away from the moment itself. What’s the point of having lived through something amazing if you can’t remember it afterwards?
The most important lesson Price took away from the class was that selfies don’t necessarily have to have you in it — as long as an image represents who you are, the #selflessselfie is a thing. Here’s Price’s “perfect selfie”:
That? Is something I can get behind.
Image: Ashley Batz/Bustle