Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

Digitizing memories – pictures are worth no words

“Fred! Let’s take a selfie,” a young woman in the middle of Hogsmeade cries out, lifting her GoPro camera to the perfect angle. Fred, caught up in the spirit of Universal’s artificial Scottish beauty, steps away from the smiling lady, who snaps a picture solo without missing a beat. Other tourists pull out their cell phones and hold up Butterbeer to their lips, snapping photos left and right for their followers and “friends.”


Growing up in the late nineties and early 2000s, my experience with photos was relatively old-school: I owned a Kim Possible disposable camera and, after blowing through an entire roll of film on one afternoon at the park, I learned the value of conserving film for posed moments and memorable group shots. Every photo was developed and placed carefully in scrapbooks and photo albums, but all of my tangible photo experiences stopped in my early tweens.

Frankly, when almost every photo is a selfie, taken on a low-quality cell phone camera, and posted strictly to the internet in hopes that it will be preserved, our memories may not feel so real anymore. There are more candid photos and selfies of me than posed photos, and I am beginning to wonder if our lives are becoming so overly-documented that no photo is a favorite photo, and no picture is truly important anymore.

Long after my disposable camera days, I still stick to my digital camera for preserving the action in my life. Every second I deem notable is snapped and sits somewhere within a small piece of plastic. No more big photo albums. Plastic chips. Only to be read my computers, not curious eyes who want to remember the past.

While I don’t dislike selfies, sometimes I wish my memories weren’t shared on Facebook, especially inadvertently. I don’t know how often my resting face appears in random pictures, and while I worry about this, I simply let my favorite moments collect digital dust within an SD card. Perhaps not printing our photos to hand to our children one day, while we take more photos than ever before, will result in us having no clear way to remember anything. We will just be smiling pixels that could disappear at any moment, and we will rely on the images inside us to hold onto the past.

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Photo credit: Public domain

Barbie can’t be a computer engineer… can she?

No longer is Barbie just a disproportionate plastic doll – she’s a computer engineer! Well, sort of….

The widely-discussed book “Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer” has made quite a wave in the feminist and tech-o-spheres, as its portrayal of the doll as the “creative soul yet incompetent programmer” has enough sociopolitical ammo in it to arouse viral upheaval.

Barbie is portrayed as a girl who accidentally downloads a virus onto her computer, but admits that she needs the help of her male friends to fix it. Bring in the feminist organizations – we need a clean up on the toy aisle, particularly Barbie’s plastic laptop kit. Later, she explains that she is designing a video game (rad!), but when her gal pals ask to play it, she admits that she will need her guy friend’s help to turn it into a real game (bad!). But Barb, we thought you were the computer engineer?

If I were a young reader, I would probably not understand what everyone is upset about. Barbie would not have seemed incompetent to me, because she frequently seeks out magic and other-worldly help in all of her plot lines – the girl doesn’t do much for herself, because if she could, what would be the point of having other characters and wild mystical possibilities involved? But as someone who is in tune to the qualms of the modern STEM woman, I understand the issue of Barbie not being able to code the video game herself – I mean, she is claiming to be an engineer, yet she puts the workload on someone else and does little tech work herself. While having imagination is critical to any project, it is not sufficient to supply ideas and call yourself the chief creator or “engineer” of a game. I worry more about the fraud and ethical implications Barbie is pushing in the story than the gender stereotypes that one could assume are propelled at our youth.

According to Time.com, Mattel apologized for how Barbie is portrayed in this story, which came out in 2010, yet only just now was brought to the attention of the internet. Time notes that Barbie has been “to space and business school,” and is a competent woman.

Surely if Barbie can do all that, she can be a computer engineer – I hope.

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Photo: theverge.com



#nofilter: Are we selfie obsessed?

The selfie craze hit the scene as soon as Instagram® exploded with sunsets, breakfasts and faces. I explored the selfie world before it was hip with not an iPhone, but a digital camera.

Yes, I said a digital camera. Remember those?


Look at this dinosaur!

Look at this dinosaur! Source: http://www.wikibest.com/Digital_Camera


Evidently, at the ripe age of 13 I had nothing better to do than take photos of myself, so I frequently took “selfies” with my gray, clunky Canon. Since I had nowhere to post these archaic photos, I eventually deleted them. It was not satisfying to possess one hundred pictures of my face back then, yet it is so common to host many pictures of our faces now.

Why? We are selfie obsessed.

Now don’t get me wrong: taking pictures of ourselves is not a selfish activity; sometimes we look great and want to remember our sparkling skin and perfect hair days. I only consider selfie taking somewhat inappropriate when it is gratuitous. For example, taking an Oscars-inspired selfie at the end of a day out with friends is a wonderful way to commemorate your time together. When you take ten different selfies while ignoring your friends, you are not all that “like”-able. As someone who does not own a smart phone, I do not feel a burning desire to capture my new bangs at a certain angle when I am out-and-about; documenting my face distracts from the moment.

In the same way, selfie taking is a status symbol: it gives us an excuse to whip out our expensive phones and, quite literally, show the world who our true friends are. Only so many people can fit in one shot (Ellen DeGeneres knows this all too well).


Photo courtesy of gamedayr.com

Photo courtesy of gamedayr.com


On a positive note, selfies are very convenient. This is why we take so many. Not everyone wants to ask a stranger to take a picture of her and her friend. Not only is it awkward, but it puts an expensive phone in the hands of an unfamiliar person. For this reason I enjoy taking selfies every once in a while; after all, it is a casual, no-fuss way to get a picture of me and a friend.

According to Seventeen magazine, selfies are also viewed as statements of self-esteem. While it may be quite a feat to snap a picture of your no makeup, or goodness forbid, #nofilter self, I would not say the action represents the recognition of your inner strength. Within seconds of “selfie” taking, the photo is up on various social networking sites, free to be liked and commented on with hoards of clicks and keystrokes. Just snap a picture, post it, and let the warming reassurance flood into your feed.

To me, if you need someone to “like” your face before you like your face, your selfie taking is the antithesis of showcasing your self confidence. But taking a selfie to commemorate an occasion – without taking fifteen of your outfit beforehand – is perfectly “selfie healthy.”

Do you take selfies for the likes or for the memories?