While Cardell and Douglas make some valid points about selfies can be complex and have meaningful value, I believe these pictures are mainly still taken with nothing but a vain purpose behind them. In their writing, the two authors go in-depth about people taking selfies when on a trip, specifically in historical sites where it can be deemed as insensitive. When talking about one of these places, the ANZAC Cove in Turkey, they mention that
“Visitors to this site are drawn to the particular national context and complex history of the site, but they are also increasingly tourists, equipped with mobile devices and engaging in performances of documentation and memory-making that exceeds, or extends, the commemorative function of the site in its geographical location”
Because of this, tourists are prone to take pictures and selfies no matter the place. They argue that while it can be seen as impolite and careless, these pictures can be taken with the purpose of reflecting on the meaning of said place or to teach a certain audience about it.
While this is a strong point, I believe they are being too optimistic about it. Yes, some people do take selfies with the intent to tell a story or educate others, many tourists take selfies to post on social media for others to see where they are. I’m sure we’ve all taken a selfie before while on vacation, and I’m also sure we haven’t thought “I’m going to post this to teach something about the place I’m at.” Instead, most of the time we’re thinking “I’m going to post this so people close to me (or whoever follows you) can see where I’m at” or “I’m going to post this so I can look back on this moment and the place I was visiting.” I admit I’m part of this, if you look at my Instagram it’s filled with travel pictures where the main focus is myself and not the place, which I posted with no real purpose except wanting to share where I was at and remember it. There’s a sense of vanity that comes when taking a posting a selfie, whether we admit it or not. As the authors themselves mention,
“The selfie in everyday life, as in travel, is evidence and “bragging” in the context of “I was here”
After all, the main focus of the picture is us and not the place we’re visiting, which attests to our purpose when taking and posting said image. Would we focus the picture on ourselves if the goal was to bring attention to the place we’re at, or to teach others something about the place? There’s definitely nothing wrong with posting a travel selfie. In the end, it’s our account and we have the liberty to post whatever we want to, as long as it follows the guidelines. However, we shouldn’t think there’s a greater purpose for what we’re doing in order to make ourselves feel better about it. While I do agree that we take selfies with the intent to share our experiences with those who follow us, I don’t think that in most cases this has any other greater purpose behind it except letting others know about our fun vacation.