RIP, Selfies. Kim Kardashian West Says They're Dead

Holding a phone with an outstretched arm while doing duck lips—that might be done. But are selfies over? We asked selfie experts for their honest opinion

Selfies are dead: TV personality Kim Kardashian and model Naomi Campbell take a selfie

Fonder days: Kim Kardashian West and Naomi Campbell take a selfie together back in April 2016 (Photo: Getty)

In a recent very special episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians (is there any other kind?), Kim Kardashian West played a game of Would You Rather? with her sisters, in which she was asked whether she would rather “never be able to post a selfie again” or “never be able to Snapchat.”

Cue the collective bated breath….

Kardashian West picked SnapChat over selfies. Not only that, she said selfies are “kind of a few years ago.”   

Come again???

This is both a shocking and rich proclamation from a woman who built an empire using her outstretched arm and an arsenal of Insta filters. But is it true? We decided to investigate.

First, let’s define selfie.

Before you roll your eyes, there’s no real consensus. In its purest form, a selfie is a photo of one’s self taken by one’s self. A photo taken by a third party doesn’t count. (Unless that third party is a selfie stick). That said, a lot of people use selfie to define any close up photo of themselves, regardless of who took it, so it really depends on how strict you want to be.

Can we use stats to back up KKW’s claim?

That’s actually kind of tricky since Instagram doesn’t allow for time-specific searches.  Which means it’s impossible to tell, for example, how many people used the hashtag #selfie in 2016 vs. 2015 vs. 2014 and so on.

Still, there are some numbers worth crunching. Apparently, there were 282 million #selfies on Instagram as of December 2016. Today a search on Instagram reveals that number is 320,200,339. Which means there have been more than 40 million or so #selfies in the last 10 months. That doesn’t feel like a small number—and it certainly doesn’t suggest selfies are “kind of a few years ago,” Kim.

What do the experts say?

According to social media academic Lianna Pisani (who wrote her master’s research paper on self-identifying through selfies), selfies are as big as ever—it’s just the crowd that’s changing.

“It’s true, a lot of social media influencers like Kim Kardashian West now have people taking their photos for them, so maybe there are less selfies in that realm,” she says. “Instead, they have become of an activist tool. We are using selfies more now to mark our place in history. Look at the Women’s March where we saw thousands of people taking selfies and using hashtags to connect with likeminded people and to archive their experience into a large digital album.”

Jesse Miller, social media expert and founder of consultancy group Mediated Reality, says selfies aren’t over, they’re just evolving.

“Holding a phone out while doing duck lips—that might be done. If you look at someone who is very prominent like The Rock, he is still holding his arm out in front of him, capturing content, but instead of photos, it’s video. Mobile communication in general has become less static. So selfies are maybe not so trendy, they’re just normative.”

Are other celebs cutting back?

Other celebs? What about just other Kardashians!? Taking a stroll down the memory lane that is Kylie Jenner’s Instagram account, shows us that the baby of the family posted 25 selfies in September 2015. If we compare her selfies in September 2016, she posted 35. And in September 2017? She was back to 25. That’s an average of 28 or so in a month that has 30 days. Point being: if selfies are over, someone needs to tell Kylie.

Why is Kim saying this now?

It’s true that Kim’s death knell feels pretty arbitrary. Remember when she said the puppy filter was dead?

One could argue we hit “peak selfie” four years ago, when the Oxford English Dictionary declared it the word of 2013. Or later that year when Obama took the first known #funeralselfie. There was Ellen Degeneres’s record-setting celeb-studded selfie at the 2014 Oscars (#RIP Brangelina), or the following year when Anna Wintour (certainly a more reliable style arbiter than KKW) banned selfies from the annual Met Gala. (Too bad she didn’t issue a similar edict against “naked dresses.”)

No offence Kim, but far as being in vogue goes, even hating on selfies seems a little passé.

And here, a little more evidence to the contrary…

Kim may be all “selfies are so 2014” now, but just a few months back, she was bragging about how she took 6,000 selfies over the course of a four day trip. Sooooo……

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