Mirror, Mirror in My Phone: Editing Apps vs How We See Ourselves


One of the most remarkable and prominent social trends of recent years has been the rise of the ‘selfie’, whereby, of course, an individual takes a picture of themselves and shares it for others to see and potentially pass comment upon.

The trend has been enormously pervasive since it first took off and by now the process is almost as familiar as drawing breath for many millions of people – particularly young people – around the world.

But the relationship between editing apps and identity remains an area, about which relatively little has been discussed or discovered. Here we’ll take a look at some of the key considerations in this context.

Smartphones and the era of selfies

The key development that allowed for the selfie to become such a common feature of so many people’s everyday lives was that of the affordable availability of quality smartphones.

Even as recently as ten years ago, there were relatively few mobile phones in widespread use that could actually capture images with a forward-facing camera, and fewer still that could take pictures that were in the least bit flattering to whoever might have been in the picture.

Today, by contrast, virtually every smartphone in use anywhere in the world has what would now commonly be referred to as a selfie function and most capture images that can rival the sharpness of most standalone digital cameras.

Instagram and other social media

And don’t forget that all of us can now happily snap away and show off our best sides at any moment on Instagram, which has certainly been among the most significant social media platforms to emerge in recent years.

Its incredible popularity, coupled with its super simple editing functions, have gone a long way towards making millions of us more than a little selfie obsessed.

And the editing functions are crucial here because it means that suddenly we can all play around with different filters and within a matter of seconds find one that we deem particularly flattering and share it around.

Alongside Instagram, where users can very easily adjust any pictures they take of themselves, there are the other social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter of course, where we can all now share selfies to our heart’s content.

Beyond that there are other add on editing apps which can take matters one step further and ‘help’ us all to ensure that we are presenting our very best selves before we make any kind of post.

Where does it leave us?

The jury is out on where the evolution of the selfie and of image-editing apps will leave us. Certainly there seems to be a tendency towards narcissism and, perhaps, rather more routine distortions of reality than past generations would recognize as being the norm.

But whether these editing apps are really changing the way that we view ourselves remains a matter of conjecture.

One thing we know for sure, though, is that there looks certain to be plenty more demand for mobile apps that make us look better and allow users to touch up and tweak their pictures at the tap of a few buttons.

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