Do you remember the first time you ever saw yourself in a mirror? I like to imagine that my first time was like those videos of dogs running headfirst into their reflection. That’ll teach my toddler reflection to have cuter baby shoes than me. The way we look and the way we perceive others see us is a huge part of our identity and society; probably the biggest indicator of this is the rise of the selfie. We’ve all taken one at some point or another and most likely shared it on every social media platform we can get our hands on. We shoot them on phones and on camera drones. Whether it’s shot with friends, celebrities or an adorable doggo, selfies are a way of life and a big way of how the world sees us. But how did they come to be?

Believe it or not selfies have been around since the mid 1800’s; clearly the hippest era of history. Robert Cornelius is credited with taking the first daguerreotype of himself in 1839. I would explain what a daguerreotype is, but I’ve spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how the process works and all I can tell you is that in involved a tonne of chemicals and that it was obsolete by 1860 because it was so expensive, kind of like getting film developed in 2017. Looking at the photo, he looks like a bit of a modern-day hipster:

Mr Robert “Steal Yo Girl” Cornelius, 1839

Further on down the track when the Kodak Brownie box camera had made self-portraiture (most indie term ever) more widespread, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was one of the first teenagers to take a photo of herself in a mirror to send to a friend in 1914. Sounds like a bit of a trend setter if you ask me. In an accompanying letter, she wrote “I took this picture of myself looking at the mirror. It was very hard as my hands were trembling.” Read: the first ever use of the term shook. Was everyone before 1920’s a social trailblazer? I’m beginning to think so.

The word selfie, however, was a little late to the party. Jump forward to 2002 and, in the depths of an Australian internet forum the terms reared its head for the first time with this banger of a post:

“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.”

Of course it’s Australian. What’s more Australian than a celebratory snap of injuring yourself.

Nathan Hope, the author of this magnum opus, denies having coined the term selfie, saying it was “something that was just common slang at the time, used to describe a picture of yourself.” I think this could be classified as one of the biggest business mistakes of the 21st century; if Paris Hilton could trademark the term “That’s Hot”, surely Nathan could’ve tried to trademark the term “selfie” and made a killing. I mean, 24 billion selfies were uploaded in 2015. I don’t know how royalties work, but surely that’s a few lunches or maybe a couple of Krispy Kremes. Just sayin’.

From that point on it was onwards and upwards for the selfie. In 2003, the first phone with a front facing selfie camera was introduced (the Sony Ericsson Z1010 – what a name). This was gradually overtaken by the phenomenon that was the iPhone and the host of apps it brought to the market, like Snapchat. Selfies have become a quick and easy way of sharing ourselves with the world and, more often than not, embarrass us once we’ve had a couple of drinks.
So where will the selfie go from here? In a word; up. Selfie drones are taking the world by storm and offering a unique perspective on taking selfies, letting people take selfies from angles they never could have achieved before. It’s only a matter of time before we have fully autonomous flying robots taking our selfies for us but until then, check out ROVA for all your flying selfie needs. One thing is for sure; selfies aren’t going away any time soon, so it’s time to jump aboard on this selfie trend!

Estimate of selfie revenue; many yums