Pop! So goes the word “culture” with each release of the Apple iPhone. With the introduction of the iPhone 6s in September 2015, Apple served up a new quick action shortcut menu. Surprisingly, the camera app’s quick action menu placed “Take Selfie” at the top of the list, while relegating “Take Photo” to the bottom.
When future historians look back at the opening decades of the 21st century, will they define an inward-looking and self-obsessed American culture as “Generation Me”? If so, they would need look no further than the Apple iPhone 6s for confirmation.
Yet, a question lurks in the background. Does the inclination to turn the camera inward express a blind obsession with self – a modern day version of Narcissus repeated millions of times over – or does this portend a future in which a celebration of individuality and diversity finally frees the many selves from the constraints imposed by the whole?
As for future historians with an interest in photography, what will they make of the two quick action video options that push “Take Photo” to its last place standing? If Apple and, by association, pop culture have relegated “Take Photo” to the bottom of the list, does this imply the death of the still image? In a world increasingly dominated by video, what remains of the value of the photograph? Indeed, does photography even matter?