The media like to claim that millennials are the most narcissistic and overall useless generation in history, but it turns out that all the silly and/or self-centered pastimes they supposedly invented have been around for generations. So the next time someone gives you crap for doing one of the following, dig out the fuzzy black-and-white photos of their grandfathers doing the same.
The "Modern" Fad:
If there's one habit that perfectly sums up the narcissism of social media, it's people taking pointless pictures of themselves making stupid faces at the camera. It's not enough to tell us what they're doing; they have to include a picture of their big, stupid faces in the process, camera in an extended hand or pointed toward a bathroom mirror.
The Instagram filter is set to "douche."
But It's Been Going on Since ...
So how far back does this fad go? How about to one of the people who invented the freaking camera, photography pioneer Robert Cornelius? While the name makes him sound like a gruff industrialist who spends his spare time thinking up new ways to exploit child laborers, Cornelius was actually an amateur chemist who helped make important refinements to the daguerreotype (film's cooler-sounding predecessor). And what did he do with his great innovation?
Via Library Of Congress
"Going to hit the big frat party tonite!!!!1 #SWAG #YOLO"
The Library of Congress believes that this is the first portrait taken in America, and it might be the first portrait taken ever. So of course it's a selfie, featuring Cornelius (Bobby C-Dawg to his friends) sitting with his arms crossed like he's trying to casually look all badass. But OK -- if you're taking the first portrait in history, we understand why you'd want to be in it. Unfortunately, Cornelius started a trend that's carried through the ages to create the terrible flash-in-the-bathroom-mirror shots we all know and loathe today. Here's a woman from 1900 using the mirror trick:
She then tweeted it to her friends by attaching it to a messenger pigeon.
And here's an Australian soldier from 1917 who looks like he's taking the World War I equivalent of an online dating profile picture:
"I'm just a fun-loving guy who likes music, sports, and not getting shot by Ottomans."
Even old-timey celebrities got in on the action. Below you'll see 13-year-old Grand Duchess Anastasia showing off the 1913 equivalent of duckface: abject terror face.
Retronaut, via The Atlantic
When you gaze long into a selfie, the selfie also gazes into you.
Presumably she then took pictures of her lavish meals and that's how the Russian Revolution started.