August 2014

Hand pointing, light beams in background © SuperStock/Corbis

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To Thine Own Selfie Be True

On Christmas Day in 2006, Time magazine published its annual "Person of the Year" issue, with a strange twist: they didn't actually select a person. Instead, the cover featured a photo of a computer, on top of which lay a small, reflective paper rectangle—a makeshift mirror floating above a single, captivating word: You.

Nodding to the then newly minted capacity to customize one's online presence, this comparatively brazen editorial conceit perfectly captured a sense of where things appeared to be heading. American culture stood at that moment on the precipice of a new, self-obsessed democracy: for the people and by the people—and photographed by the people, too. With that seminal issue, we were told to get ready for our close-up, and get ready we did.

We took the bait, eager to recalibrate a kind of carpe diem for this, our brave new world. Over the…

The first and most obvious reaction I have is to think of the famous 1917 WWI Army recruitment po...