In the 'year of the selfie,' a hot Christmas gift item

An extendable selfie pole — perfect to widen camera angles — is the latest gift in the digital age of narcissism. But with high-profile selfies, a backlash is emerging to self-portraiture. 

Ellen DeGeneres, AP Photo, File
This image released by Ellen DeGeneres shows actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyong'o Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong'o and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a "selfie" portrait on a cell phone during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Capping off Twitter’s “year of the selfie”? An extendable arm — it’ll perfectly frame a quick self-portrait. A Bluetooth-enabled pole may be the greatest holiday gift that hasn’t quite caught on this year.

The Daily Mail reports that these poles are popular in Asia and in parts of the UK for taking group shots and action pictures. Poles with Bluetooth cost around $20, but the price drops without the enabled technology. 

Celebrity call-outs to the selfie movement marked 2014, a year in which Twitter says the word “selfie” was tweeted 92 million times.

Perhaps Ellen DeGeneres first highlighted the need for an extendable selfie pole at the Oscars in March. She gathered stars around her — including Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Meryl Streep — but noted “if only Bradley’s arm was longer.” If so, more Hollywood stars could have been in the picture.

In January, The Chainsmokers, New York City-based DJs, released a song called #SELFIE, in which a spoken-word audio track narrates the narcissistic cultural phenomenon. (“I only got 10 likes in the last five minutes / do you think I should take it down? / Let me take another selfie.”)

According to a June Forbes article, the selfie poles are “an invasive species.” One critic asks, “‘This is less awkward than asking a stranger to take a photo for you?’” 

“Their stick is a loud (and proud) declaration of self-portraiture,” according to the magazine. “No covert selfies for them…In the cultural war over whether selfies are self-expressive art worth elevating or digital narcissism taken to new levels of ridiculousness, the selfie-stick is a new battle line.”

But is the selfie fanfare more generally starting to fade?

Several times this year, many felt the self-indulgent pictures crossed a moral line. 

Even in Monday morning's hostage situation in Sydney, Australia, several passers-by took selfies at the occupied café, RT reported. Many of such posts shared on social media attracted negative commentary.

And a young girl faced intense criticism for taking a selfie in Auschwitz last June. She later tweeted that she did not understand why it was “such a big deal” that she was smiling, the Mirror reported.

A 2013 blog called attention to social media images taken at funerals, including one captioned: “Love my hair today. Hate why I’m dressed up #funeral.” In response, Bustle magazine asked, “Are we losing our humanity?” CNBC’s headline reads: “yes, people actually do that.”

Though it racked up millions of mentions, the selfie was absent from Twitter’s 2014 wrap-up, which was released last week. The list includes more serious topics, as well as athletic events: the Super Bowl, the “bring back our girls” in Nigeria movement, Maya Angelou’s death, the World Cup, Ferguson, Malala Yousafzai, and the fall midterm US election are among the “moments that made this year memorable.”

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