Personal Column


Last Thursday, I did an in-class personal column for Feature Writing. I received the marks back today and scored a Distinction, and also a “very good” from my tutor. I’m very happy with my progression through this subject.

Like the description exercise, this was pretty simple: the unit coordinator posted three topics on Blackboard (uni communication website) that we had to choose from. We could interpret the topic any way we wished, but it had to be clear in our writing what topic we had chosen. I only realised on the day that I had been practicing for this for a few weeks by blogging, so I was quite confident going into class.

The topics were:

  • Tony Abbott’s report card;
  • selfies suck; and
  • thanks for (over) sharing.

My tutorial for this unit is immediately after the lecture, and I had heard some ladies talking in the lecture about the girl who posted a smiling Auschwitz selfie on Twitter, so chose the topic “selfies suck”.

The tutorial is two hours, and in Corporate Writing and Editing I’m learning about how to divide time correctly between researching, writing, and editing. The guideline is to give one-third of your time to each, so I researched for about 40 minutes, then wrote and edited for the same. I need to have plenty of time to edit because I like going over my work several times before submitting it.


The inappropriate selfie: aren’t they all?

You’re on holiday in Germany and you’ve decided to see some of the historical sights. Arriving at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, you see the famous metal words “Arbeit Macht Frei” – work makes (you) free. Walking underneath them, you simply cannot begin to imagine the horrors that they were witness to.

So, what’s the first thing you do? If you said “take a selfie”, then you’re not alone. You’re an idiot, but you’re not alone.

On her trip to the camp, teenager Breanna took a selfie of herself smiling inside the camp and posted it to Twitter, following the caption “Selfie in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp” with a smiling emoticon.

Needless to say that Breanna copped a bit of stick for the selfie. NewsLinQ reported that “people all over Twitter fired back at the teen for what they say was a disrespectful act”.

There is a (semi-legitimate) excuse behind Breanna’s actions. She explained on Twitter that she had planned to visit the camp with her recently deceased father, whom she studied Auschwitz with, so she was happy about the trip.

So is this the real deal, or just a desperate response from a teenager who didn’t think her actions through and who was embarrassed by the consequences? No one can be certain, but Breanna did tweet this: “I’m so stupid and f*** everything up”, which is open to interpretation, just like her picture is.

As you can garner from the title, I’m not the biggest selfie fan. In fact, I think there’s nothing vainer than posting a photo of yourself to attract attention or to fish for compliments. Never when I’m feeling down have I thought to put on a full face of makeup, do my hair, dress up, take a selfie, and post it to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram with the caption “ew, so ugly today” to cheer myself up. Maybe I should try it one day, if I weren’t so ugly… Nothing? Oh, well.

If you do do this to cheer yourself up, but can’t take a good selfie to save your self-esteem, then don’t worry, there are websites that share the “technical secrets behind selfies”.

The Beauty Experts Tips website suggests that the problem is the subject: you. The website says to “always, ALWAYS, check yourself in the mirror first … you might be surprised of what you actually look [like]”. That’s a great tip for people who are desperately seeking reassurance from strangers.

But if you just want to show off what you’ve got with that all important gym selfie (because if you didn’t take it, then you didn’t go), then AC Shilton of Fit Nation Magazine’s website assures you that while “it’s all too easy to look gross and sweaty or washed out by bad fluorescent lighting … the good news is this: anyone can master the art of selfies”.

I have several problems with this.

Firstly: if you don’t look gross and sweaty at the gym, then you’re not doing what you should be.

Second: I don’t think providing lighting to complement a selfie is high on any gym’s list of priorities.

Finally: unless you’re Vincent van Gogh posing next to The Scream, selfies aren’t art.

Shilton goes on to quote photographer Brian Tietz, who gives some golden nuggets for taking a killer selfie. “For the ladies,” says Brian, “consider wearing just a touch of makeup.” Really? Because of course that makeup will still be there after you’ve sweated it off (assuming that you actually go to the gym to sweat).

So although putting people in a photo might improve the photo, social media has really pulled a Dr Frankenstein on this concept, and turned it into a living, breathing, hideous beast that demands constant feeding and attention, lest Facebook go without its daily dose of duck face.



Beauty Experts Tips. “You Suck At Selfies? Learn How To Take The Best Selfie Ever!” Accessed September 11, 2014.

NewsLinQ. “Teen Sparks Controversy With Smiling Selfie At This Place Of All Places…” Accessed September 11, 2014.

Shilton, AC. 2014. “Your Selfies Suck. Here’s How To Take Better Selfies.” Accessed September 11, 2014.


Until next time


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