Like sex, selfie education starts at home

My five-year-old, the one who thought she was going to wear lipstick to school (HAHAHAHAHAHA) put together a little outfit today and wanted me to document it. I don’t know what I was thinking with this next bit, but I can only reason that when she asks for stuff, I usually suggest she tries it herself first because I’m lazy I want her to learn life skills. Want an apple? You know where they are. Want to go outside? Put on your coat. Oh, you don’t want to wear a coat? BYE! Then I wait for her to freeze and come back knocking asking for a coat. I love being the mom. Anyway, for some reason (maybe that, maybe I forget she’s a kid sometimes, maybe I had this song in my head) I said, “do you want to take a selfie?”

Her: What’s a selfie? Like Sophie? My friend Sophie can jump really high!

Me: A selfie is when you take a picture of yourself.


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She better not be taking this just to mock that bear. He has feelings, you know.


I was a little unnerved after she took it and I finally figured out why. It’s because this is our first area of childhood we’ll be dealing with that I didn’t experience as a kid. Sure, she has an iPad, but I had some low-tech 80’s product. Screens are screens. Cartoons are less violent now, but they’re still around and bike riding is virtually unchanged except the safety police makes us wear helmets. I mean, safety helmets are awesome. But selfies? Even though I had a camera (with film!) I didn’t take selfies. It wasn’t done. And it certainly didn’t go on the internet for others to judge or ridicule or for me to use as a vehicle to destroy peoples’ self-esteem. See? Thoughts and confusion!

It will be a long time before my child gets her own phone. I’m determined to be ready. I’m jogging in place to warm up. I know the tween years will be here in a flash and just in case there’s no zombie apocalypse (my fears are so 2013) I’m getting a head start thinking about the ground rules for my kids’ selfies. I mean, if her kid brain is left to its own devices, it might want to take a selfie at a the scene of an accident or on a field trip to the morgue.

So. Rules for selfies:

1. Never place your self worth in the hands of the internet. “Likes” don’t equal love, so if you put up a selfie and no one likes or everyone likes it, I want you to know both of those things are meaningless.

2. No taking pictures while engaging in some dangerous fad like planking on top of buildings. Obviously you are going to do stupid things – lots of them!- but don’t complicate matters by documenting it.

3. No taking selfies when doing harmless things like walking or eventually, driving. Those things are only safe when you are not preoccupied with showing the internet your duck lips through a filter.

4. No duck lips. Probably by the time you’re a teenager, the cool thing will be bug eyes or fish cheeks. Who knows, but it’s all stupid so don’t do it. Just smile.


5. No selfies that are clever ruses for making fun of people in the background. 

6. No sexy selfies. Everyone breaks this rule, it seems, so if you must, let me just tell you this lady to lady assuming you are 18 by the time you read this: pick the face or the body but never both and never post the body ones under your name or your known handle. Also, avoid sending them altogether if you are running for office. (This doubles as a good argument against tattoos. No identifying marks!)

7. If you’re in a museum, look at the art. Not your hair, not your Instagram followers. The internet will always be there but the Mona Lisa in front of you is something you can only take in in person for a few moments of your life. Don’t squander it by fiddling with a screen for people who largely don’t care. (If you break something priceless it’s totally coming out of your allowance!)

8. If you’re at dinner, or in a theater (or at a dinner theater – is that really a thing?) put your phone away altogether.

9. Use a warm filter or black and white. The green ones make you look sick and eventually, old. (Those are for taking pictures of Miller Lite so it looks like it’s really from the 70’s.)

10. Don’t ever take a selfie at a grave, a holocaust museum, a funeral, a morgue or with anyone sleeping, dead or unconscious.

11. No selfies in the bathroom. If you must, and you will, at least make sure there’s nothing nasty in the background. I refuse to post the famous selfie of a photobomb by Mr. Hanky or the one with the lady who forgot to put Bob back in the drawer, so just be mindful.

12. Hashtag Grammys.


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