I will be speaking at TEDxSyracuse University April 17!

I will be giving a talk on the “Psychology of Selfies” at the TEDx Syracuse University “Evolve” conference on Friday, April 17 @ 5pm at the Watson Theater on the SU campus!

Read more about the event at The Daily Orange. Watch the YouTube trailer for the event. And check out my quick bio on Facebook and Twitter. Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE: Livestream Link Available!


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#TBTSelfie Part 4: Color of Selfie

Reposted from June 3, 2014: Inspired by a photo series entitled Humanœ, a “chromatic inventory… to record and catalog all possible human skin tones,” I decided to do my own quick pantone using an assortment of selfies. Click here to see all 25 shades.

I originally put this series together as an exploration of colorism, prejudice or discrimination against individuals based on skin tone, often within ethnic or racial group. Colorism runs deep and can affect all members of a group. For a great summary, see Dark Girls (2011) and Light Girls (2015). I also shared 8 Things Pale Latinas are Tired of Hearing and stories about Eva Longoria and Beyonce.

But I chose to explore how different photos of oneself can help unpack and question the stability of color. I pulled 25 of my favorite pictures (mostly selfies) and isolated the dominant skin color from the cheek. 25 pictures, 25 colors, a self-pantone. In doing so, my selfies contribute to a larger conversation about social and political issues. Selfies-as-Art.

How would you make your selfies into art? What emotions and observations would you want to convey across your work? Do that.


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#TBTSelfie Part 3: Caught in the Act

I love taking pictures of people taking pictures. And when people take pictures of me taking selfies. For me, it is a meta moment where I am capturing someone capturing another moment. This moment is just as valuable for the photographer as it is for the thing being photographed.

On that note, I also love getting caught in the selfie act. Although the narcissism of selfies is widely discussed, capturing someone in the selfie act allows us to observe the act itself, not just the outcome. The traditional selfie tropes (e.g., duckface, “sleeping” selfies, see others at knowyourmeme.com) are even more hilarious when the individual is caught in the process of such facial and bodily contortions.

The best photographs of photographers are candid. The selfies captured below were done so without my knowledge, thus demanding a greater understanding of the photo being taken. In the first selfie at Joshua Tree in 2011, I was excited about the scenery, the weather, and the overall trip. The second one, also captured in 2011, was just a quick duckface on a good hair day, but by capturing that seemingly narcissistic and gratuitous moment, the friend photographing my selfie reminds me that it is not a throwaway moment, but rather a great afternoon with friends that deserves just as much value and attention as a camping trip to a national park.

TEDxSyracuse University: Friday, April 17, 2015 at 5pm
Livestream Available at http://tedx.syr.edu/livestream.html

File Mar 27, 10 15 42 AM

File Apr 04, 10 57 46 AM

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#TBTSelfie Part 2: Sticker Pictures

I recently came across a bag full of sticker pictures from college c. 2001. The sticker picture was the first time that I had the opportunity for regular immediate photographic gratification; growing up, I didn’t have a Polaroid camera because the film was too expensive. So much of our selfie culture is based on im-media-cy; it is not about how we look, but rather how we look right now. The Kodak iZone made that opportunity available for cheap 1999.

I loved my sticker camera, and I had forgotten how much until I came across this bag of photos. I have a lot of hair selfies. In 1999, I cut off my hair instead of continuing to straighten it. Until then, I was generally unable to manage my own hair and I often left it up to my family members or hairstylists. In cutting off my hair, I learned how to take care of it inch by inch, and I was madly in love with my curl pattern.

TEDxSyracuse University: Friday, April 17, 2015 at 5pm
Livestream Available at http://tedx.syr.edu/livestream.html


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#TBTSelfie Part 1: My Earliest Selfie

Next month, I will be giving a TEDx talk at Syracuse University on the Psychology of Selfies. I’m sharing a throwback selfie each Thursday for the next 4 weeks leading up to that talk. Installment #1, my earliest selfie. Taken 20 years ago during freshman year of high school (1994-95), complete with bangs, scrunchie, and double chin.

I may have selfies from middle school, but this is the oldest that I could find. The selfie is often associated with our new media environment, where a camera is always available via smartphone, and the gratification of viewing, editing (including selecting which image and manipulating), and sharing the image is immediate; however, this environment only made the self-portrait easier to create and distribute.

My original selfies, much like Colin Powell’s (whose 60-year-old selfie I have tacked up in my office) were shot on film, and had to be sent away to be developed. Each image was more valuable due to higher cost and lower availability, so I held onto every print, even the ones that were unattractive or unflattering. These pictures were valuable to me. Raised as an only child, I captured my own emotions to share with myself; I would write letters to myself and occasionally send presents to myself from myself. In 2010, I pre-ordered an engraved iPod shuffle with the note, “You’re awesome.” It arrived 2 months later long after I had forgotten about it. Sometimes, I write thank you notes to my prior self for the things that she remembered and documented.

I’m certain that on the day I took this picture, I thought I looked good. I loved those bangs even though I had to blow out my corkscrew curls every morning. It was 1994, and I wanted to look like Alicia Silverstone. I’m sure if I search harder, I can find a selfie with a terrible cameo choker.

TEDxSyracuse University: Friday, April 17, 2015 at 5pm
Livestream Available at http://tedx.syr.edu/livestream.html


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Throwback Thursday #TBT: My Life Story

This week, I discussed the relationship between computers and psychology in my class “Psychology of Interactive Media.” Although many voices in this area jump to networked computers and the way we interact with others because of the internet, I have taken a week to specifically discuss the psychological impact of computers, sans-network. How has the invention of the home computer affected our cognitions, attitudes and behaviors? The ability to work from home, the expectation of professional quality content, the ability to journal digitally, all of these things have changed the way we think about our abilities as humans. I will also be sharing this “book.”


In 1990, I wrote “My Life Story” for my 4th grade class. I remember being so impressed because I used a computer. Even though the dot-matrix printer was on the fritz, requiring me to go back over the text with a pencil to make it darker, I really believed that this was a well composed autobiography. My teacher even said so on the back page. Now, we can print our own books with our own amazing pictures and binding for $20 and have it shipped to our homes. This digital sphere, networked or not, has impressive psychological power. Being able to construct my own “professional book” at 8-years-old definitely started me down the path of academia, and internally reinforced the value of my own voice, even though I’m certain my friends and family would say that was never a problem.

“My hopes for the world are that the air won’t be filled with pollution and that the world won’t be buried in garbage. I also wish that the people who make drugs would be arrested and that smoking will be illegal or all ages; young and old.”

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