Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Features

May 3, 2014

No selfies on stage

Today's advice to graduates: No self-portraits

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Toss your cap. Turn your tassel. Just don't snap that selfie.

Graduates at the University of South Florida and Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., have been asked to refrain from taking self-portraits with their cell phones as they collect their diplomas. The seemingly simple directive is standing out for placing the slightest curtailment on a collective societal march toward sharing every waking moment on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the like.

Kyra Ciotti, a 22-year-old mass communication major at USF, has taken selfies lying in bed, riding in a car, posing with her dog, taking a shot of tequila and whenever she feels her hair is having a particularly good day. She had planned to keep her arm extended as she walked across the stage at a ceremony Friday, capturing the moment for a sister in Australia.

Now, chastened by the university's admonition that it's improper and fearful of a threat to withhold diplomas, she'll keep her phone away.

"I didn't think it was that big of a deal," she said as she posed on campus in her cap and gown for some early graduation pictures. "But I don't want to be disrespectful."

For others, the simple act of outlawing selfies may have sparked the desire for one.

Anthony Sanchez, a 22-year-old microbiology major at USF, said he's only taken a few selfies in his life. But he's not ruling out another at this weekend's ceremony.

"It put the idea in my head," he said. "I wouldn't have thought of it until they said don't do it."

Self-portraits have been around since the early days of photography, but it was the growth of cellphone cameras that made them into a pop cultural phenomenon. A selfie host Ellen DeGeneres took at the Oscars this year became the most retweeted item in history, but the snapshots have become so widespread that they've been taken by everyone from President Barack Obama (who was criticized for one with other world leaders at the funeral of Nelson Mandela) to Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide (who took an other-worldly shot outside the International Space Station.) Selfie was even declared the 2013 word of the year by Oxford University Press.

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