Bringing Selfies to a New High

If the appeal of selfies is truly universal, then NASA is on to something big. A new NASA Selfies app lets you slip snapshots of yourself into a virtual spacesuit, posed in front of NASA’s out-of-this-world images such as the Milky Way galaxy or Orion Nebula.

Created for the 15th anniversary of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the app’s simple interface lets you snap a photo of yourself, pick your cosmic background out of 30 choices, and share.

Been there, done that

You won’t be the first in space with a selfie. Buzz Aldrin took the first “spacewalk” selfie already in 1966.

Many sources like to credit the very first selfie to an American pioneer in photography — when he took a daguerreotype of himself in 1839.

Others point out the modern selfie came along with the early Nokia phones with “self-portrait” features. Indeed, the first known use of the word “selfie” came from Down Under as far back as September 2002. Yet, it was years later before selfies  would “cross the chasm” to become a cultural icon of modern digital life.

The smart money says our love of selfies was launched by the 2010 arrival of the front-facing camera in the very popular iPhone 4 — and jet-propelled by the popularity of new mobile photo services such as Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr.

After that, the universe of selfies grew by astronomical proportions.  By 2013, the word “selfie” earned the “Word of the Year” from the Oxford English Dictionary. It was also the year NASA Astronaut Mike Hopkins snapped The Best Selfie of 2013 — In Space!

By 2014,“The Year of the Selfie,” most people had stopped making fun of selfies and turned their iPhones on their own visages. Even the word game Scrabble decided selfies were acceptable.

By 2016 selfies “jumped the shark”  when a US federal judge was asked to rule on whether a crested black macaque (who had pressed a trigger on a wildlife photographer’s camera in an Indonesian jungle) could own the copyright to her selfie.

That’s right, by then selfies had officially become monkey business.

No need for photoshop

This pervasive trend  accounts for the hundreds of apps you can now find in the App Stores.  Apps like Facetune that you might use to refine your smile, brighten your teeth, delete pimples and remove those dark circles under your eyes. And why bother with incremental improvements — you can even reshape your whole facial structure with Facetune.

Maybe you prefer professional help? With the app Miku, you can get your most memorable selfies edited by professional designers — but only one for free. The rest you pay for.

Rest assured Apple knows we love our selfies. With the iPhone 8 Plus, Apple debuted Portrait Lighting, adding an extra layer on Portrait Mode to mimic professional studio lighting.  Now, with the iPhone X, you can do all of that on both the front and rear cameras.

Even NASA, the people known for staring out into space, recognizes on this planet selfies will be a part of our smartphone life forever. And you can bet when the first humans do reach the Crab Nebula, some awestruck space tourist will pull out a smart device and shout excitedly to the others, “Selfie!””