Self-iquette: Selfie Etiquette

By Posted in - Public Relations & Social Media + Influencer Engagement on July 7th, 2014

Kaitlyn Goforth, Clairemont’s wonderful intern, takes an honest look at the do’s and don’ts of the selfie world.

#ToSelfie or #NotToSelfie?

Last fall, Paul McCartney claimed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that he took the first selfie. Former secretary of state Colin Powell made similar claims in March, posting a mirror picture he took in the 50s to Facebook. It’s caption, “Eat your heart out Ellen!,” referenced Ellen DeGeneres’s recent trend-setting “Oscar selfie” with three million retweets. Regardless of who was the first to snap a photo of this sort, we can all agree on one thing: selfies have officially taken over social media.

We see them everywhere. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat–the list continues. Recently, there has been talk about selfie etiquette, particularly after President Obama was seen snapping one at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus stay in the news constantly with their skin-bearing photos, and David Ortiz faced controversy with his Samsung-sponsored selfie. As communication experts, public relations practitioners and simply social media users, this leads us to the main question. When is it appropriate to take a selfie, and ultimately, what’s the point?


People take selfies on vacation, in restaurants and even while sitting in their cubicle to update friends or followers about the hum-drum goings-ons in their lives. Suddenly, there is a social media frenzy of sharing every moment online, leading people to ask: “If you don’t post it, did you really do it?” Most smart phones are even equipped with front-facing cameras, enabling users to get the perfect angle on their self-portraits. This has lead to selfies following plane crashes, selfies while rushing the field and selfies while driving (#dangerous). The reason people are on social media is to keep up with others, but we’ve got to ask if the selfie game has simply gone too far.


Next time you have the yearning to snap a selfie, remember these do’s and don’ts. It may save you from social media scrutiny.

  • DON’T take a selfie at a funeral. President Obama didn’t set a great example, but in general, a funeral should be a selfie-free zone. People are there to grieve the loss of their loved one, not to watch you try to gain Instagram followers.
  • DON’T take a selfie in a public restroom. Not only is this not the greatest setting for a photo, but there is also the issue of privacy.
  • DON’T take a selfie in the car. Not only is it obvious (we all see your seat belt), but you also should probably be more focused on, well, driving! Wait until you’re safely out of the car to pose for a photo.
  • DO check what’s behind you. You don’t want your dirty clothes or your Justin Beiber poster in the background for everyone to see.
  • DO choose quality photos. No one wants to see a grainy or dark picture on his or her newsfeed. If you’re going to post a selfie, make it a good one.
  • DO take selfies with friends! These photos are fun and maybe even Instagramable. There’s no better way to capture memories than through awesome pictures.


The “selfie” urge is understandable: you’re having a great hair day, you’re traveling the world or you’re sitting on the beach and you want the world to know about it. Gone are the days of experiencing something remarkable and leaving with only a memory. Regardless, “selfie” was officially added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013.  It is here to stay, so we all better get used to it.




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