The Selfie: Pictures of the Word of 2013


2013 spawned some strange, awesome and strangely awesome stuff:, an obsession with a drug-dealing high school teacher, Miley Cyrus, Batkid, Miley Cyrus’ foam finger, Netflix TV, Miley Cyrus’ pigtails, a movie about floating through space AND a movie about a shark-filled tornado come to mind.

Oh, and what did that fox say, again? We couldn’t understand him.

But no event, choice or distinction was more strangely awesome than the Oxford Dictionary’s 2013 “Word of the Year” honoree.

The word that the 157-year-old institution chose? “Selfie.” And never before has the Oxford Dictionary, protector of important linguistic traditions*, honored a word so rootless in written canon.

Sure, GIF (as a verb, mind you) was honored last year, but the notion of a .gif in the first place, etymologically at least, was that of a keyboard’s. It was an alphabetical representation of a visual concept, like “selfie,” but the word “GIF” was still a word. A “selfie” was, is and always will be a totally visual concept.


And why shouldn’t it be honored? We live in a visual society. Instagram has taken over Facebook in the hearts of teenagers and Generation X/Y-ers alike. Nokia markets its cornerstone telecommunication device as a camera. Emoji’s are most certainly a thing.

(On that note, 2014’s word of the year is most definitely going to be either a picture of a whale utilizing its blowhole or a smiling pile of feces.)

Dove Soap even commissioned a buzzworthy seven-minute Sundance short called “Selfie” for the 2014 festival that made a concerted effort to clean up the whole selfie-snapping process**.

So, while this might a belated honoring, we here at Modify thought it would be nice to pay our respects to the selfie. Or, more specifically, your selfies.


So, turn those phones around, tap whichever corner of the screen lets you use the “other” camera, and start snapping folks. Selfie’s are officially a thing.



* Though some would refudiate this claim by noting they honored the word “refudiate” back in 2010, we here at Modify say live and let live, right? No one could refudiate that logic.

** While this film wasn’t exactly honoring the selfie in the traditional sense, it didn’t go out of its way to condemn the selfie either. And it was called “Selfie,” so there’s that***. And since the rise of the selfie, the Performance Enhancing Pose (PEP), Duckface, has been totally unregulated. It should be noted then, that “Selfie” could be the Instagram/Facebook equivalent of Jose Canseco’s “Juiced.” But it probably won’t be.

*** Yes, that was three “selfies” in two sentences. You counted correctly. SELFIE.

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