Date
19 November 2017
Colin Powell tweeted this selfie before it was cool and popular. Note the vintage camera he's holding. Photo: Colin Powell/Twitter
Colin Powell tweeted this selfie before it was cool and popular. Note the vintage camera he's holding. Photo: Colin Powell/Twitter

Everybody smile! This is an usie

It wasn’t long after people began taking photos of themselves on their smartphones that the word “selfie” became part of our lives.

It’s such a cute little word that stands for a big concept that conjures images of self-aggrandizement, voyeurism and conquest.

And it rolls off our tongue like water off a duck’s back.

The root word says it all but when someone supplied the suffix, a kind of cultural phenomenon was born.

In fact, before the practice became cool, it was a drag. Which is why it took former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell 50 years to tweet a selfie taken in the 1960s when he was a young soldier.

Then again, people back then had only a few ways to show off their stuff. There was the family album, of course, and the mail if you wanted to send your selfie to someone.

But it wasn’t always appropriate. Most people didn’t appreciate getting a picture of someone in the buff doing silly things in front of a mirror, and most senders didn’t really want to be seen in that light.

So, there’s a gap of an entire generation between the last selfie and the one we know today.

That’s a no-brainer. The internet didn’t arrive until 1996, Facebook and Twitter weren’t around till well into this century and the phone wasn’t smart until Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007.

Now, times are changing — again.

Selfie is still the gold standard for self-produced, self-posed pictures of oneself, but a new wave is washing over it.

They’re groupies and their thing is — you guessed it — usie, as in “us” trailed by the operative characters (it’s pronounced “us-see”).

Company executives are the first to spot potential in an emerging cultural product.

For instance, they’re the first to imagine that a stick attached to a smartphone could turn a selfie into a usie — and go on to make it.

That makes us wonder how the story will end, if ever.

But to be sure, it doesn’t always have a happy ending.

Last week, a Polish couple died after falling off a cliff in Portugal while taking the ultimate wedding selfie, according to USA Today.

In June, a 16-year-old Italian girl plunged 60 feet to her death while attempting to capture a breathtaking scene of herself and the rugged Taranto mountains in the south of the country, Mail Online reports.

And in St. Petersburg, Russia, a 17-year-old girl died when she fell off a railway bridge on her way to take a selfie.

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RA/JL

EJ Insight contributor

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