The 21 Stages of Taking a Selfie, From Confidence to Crippling Insecurity and Back Again

Taking a selfie is a complicated act. Just as there are hundreds of ways to photoshop yourself once the selfie itself has been taken, there are hundreds of ways to think about what selfie-taking represents. Is it a cry for help, e.g., "Look at me!"? Is it a form of female empowerment — choosing when and where and how to be looked at? Is it dangerously narcissistic? Is it pointlessly shallow? Is it futile? Is it a distraction from some deeper insecurity that we're all refusing to deal with?

I think a reasonable degree of selfie-taking is expected, healthy, and pretty hilarious. Sure, I'll buy the argument that there's something a bit empowering about shamelessly admitting to selfie-taking — it is, after all, our right as smartphone owners and humans who have eyes and chins and clavicles that we'd like to show off but of course it's also a fairly embarrassing and self-indulgent act that we all feel a little bit ashamed of. In fact, my favorite tweet of all time does a fantastic job of expressing our cultural discomfort with the act of selfie-taking in less than 140 characters:

Don't believe me? I'll walk you through it. This is what it feels like to really commit to taking a selfie in the year 2014.

1. "Oh. Wow. I look great today. I'm also standing in front of a fantastic piece of architecture in a foreign country, so I should probably let the world know that my face was here."

2. "And in case anyone was wondering, I haven't Instagrammed in a while, so why not? I deserve this."

3. "But selfies are kind of self indulg— you know what? It's my phone and my duck face."

4. "Lemme just adjust the lighting in here and straighten up a bit."

5. "Dear camera: So ready. Love, me!"

6. "THAT'S WHAT I LOOK LIKE IN PHOTOS?"

7. "WHAT IS REAL?"

8. "Maybe if I hold my phone like this."

9. "Abort mission, abort mission, someone just came into the room while I was stretching out my hand omg omg omg omg it was so obvious that I was taking a selfie omg omg."

10. "Oh — hi there! Come on in! I was just taking a picture of...the ceiling."

11. "So you want to awkwardly back out of the room? Fine. I shouldn't even feel the need to make excuses for myself. Everybody takes selfies. It's human nature. Don't believe me? Ask a biologist."

12. "Quick, before the next person comes into the room."

13. "Now I'll just go into a dark corner and pick out my favorite..."

14. "This one where I'm laughing and glancing away from the camera looks completely candid. REPEAT: THIS ONE WHERE I'M LAUGHING AND LOOKING AWAY FROM THE CAMERA LOOKS COMPLETELY CANDID."

15. "Lemme just write a sarcastic caption so everybody knows I don't take myself too seriously...."

16. "Posted! — no one's liked it yet. It's been three minutes and no one's liked it yet."

19. "MY SISTER LIKED IT."

20. "And now my neighbor comments, "Self portrait much?" HOW CAN I DESTROY HIM?"

21. "Am I just an extension of my selfies? Or are my selfies an extension of me?"

Images: Tumblr (14), Giphy (1), gifsec.com, whifflegif.com, gifbin.com