BE SEEN TO BE GIVING: Selfies now have a philanthropic edge to them.
BE SEEN TO BE GIVING: Selfies now have a philanthropic edge to them. CONTRIBUTED

Using selfies for more than selfish reasons takes off

"SELFIE" was 2013's word of the year.

So the good news is that there are probably only about three months to wait before it goes the way of "Turkey Twizzler", "omnishambles" and "vuvuzela" and is overtaken by another tedious piece of zeitgeist-speak.

And then people can go back to having pictures taken of them by other people, who might actually want to see and cherish the results.

For now, though, the word and deed are at their peak.

This week there was a new surge, this time of more bashful self-portraits, many taken first thing in the morning or last thing at night, often featuring dressing gowns and duvets.

These were the "no-make-up selfies", a viral outbreak in which women took bare-faced photographs of themselves, posted them on Facebook and then nominated various other female friends to follow suit.

There was a point to this, although it took a while to make itself known. The no-make-up selfies began as a backlash against cruel criticisms of Kim Novak's face when the 81-year-old actress appeared in public for the first time in years at the Oscars.

Somewhere along the line, the gesture gained a new hash tag, #breastcancerawareness.

They became a means to raise awareness of cancer, the nominations spreading the word.

Not too much wrong with that, but "raising awareness" is a quaint concept. Awareness matters, but at this point it is money that makes the difference.

While many people thought that a close-up was sufficient action, some also shared pictures of their receipt from donating to Cancer Research.

It used to be the lone privilege of celebrities on Comic Relief to show the world how they were doing their bit.

Now everyone can share their charitable work, whether it is growing a moustache or running a marathon.

It is not enough to do good; one must be seen to be doing good. Point, click, hash tag, share, feel good.

Given that any act of charity that does not involve simply going to a website and quietly typing in a credit card number is an act of vanity to some extent, the no-make-up selfie is probably the vacant high point of modern giving.

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