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While there are plenty of pictures posted with the goal of getting “likes” for a cute outfit or new hairdo, experts say the onslaught of selfies is changing the way we communicate. Why text “I’m happy” when you could post a picture of your smiling face?
“An image is a much more powerful means of communication,” Rutledge said. “We’re becoming more fluid with text and images supporting one another.”
Snapchat, in particular, pushes communication through images. The photo is front-and-center, and users can choose to add a short caption or doodle on the image before sending it. Fewer words, more pictures.
Because the photos disappear (for the most part) in 10 seconds or less, it’s less about looking good and more about conveying an authentic moment.
“It’s a fun way to talk,” said Kelly McCloskey, 13, of Minnetonka, a regular Snapchat user. “It’s just kind of cooler because you get what they’re saying more.”
Selfie aficionados say the snapshots are a quicker, often more effective way of sharing information.
“Can you imagine me writing, ‘I’m standing in front of the “Spoonbridge and Cherry.” It’s gorgeous. The water’s coming over the cherry and the sun is out,’ ” Swan said. “No. Instead, it’s a selfie shot of me in front of the ‘Spoonbridge and Cherry’ with the skyline in the background.”
That’s the kind of communication Alec Erdahl, 11, had in mind as he prepared for a baseball game on a hot summer afternoon.
In the car, uniform on, he made a face of dread and snapped a selfie.
“Going to baseball with 99 degree weather! #gonnamelt,” he wrote, posting the picture on Instagram.
Erdahl’s stepdad, Sean Lanahan, said he’s heard kids say the photos help them feel connected, especially in the summer when they don’t see their friends as often.
“It keeps that connection visually, which is more impactful than just a simple text,” he said, his stepson nodding in agreement.
Such selfie taking, it seems, is contagious.
When Lanahan’s travel plans changed in the middle of a recent trip, stranding him in Washington, D.C., for an unexpected layover, he slipped into the city.
“I thought the kids might get a kick out of me standing in front of the Capitol and White House,” he said.
Lanahan snapped a selfie.
Katie Humphrey • 612-673-4758