If you catch someone primping their hair, their arms outstretched and smartphone in hand, it's safe to assume that they are probably taking a "selfie," deemed word-of-the-year Tuesday by the Oxford Dictionaries.
While the word may be a product of the 21st century, the concept is nothing new. Van Gogh painted more than 30 images of himself.
But selfies -- driven by the ease of having a cell phone in your pocket -- mean that getting your mug out there in the world is much easier than sitting down with an easel and a spread of oil paints. And Silicon Valley is helping to fuel this high-tech self-promotion, since Twitter, Instagram and Apple are all based in the heart of the "selfie" movement.
Some are sure to scoff at the seemingly egotistical nature of it all. But others don't see it that way. "Selfies," they argue, can mean something deeper.
“People are wrestling with how they appear to the rest of the world,” Clive Thompson, a tech writer, told the New York Times. “Taking a photograph is a way of trying to understand how people see you, who you are and what you look like, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Van Gogh might have concurred. His self-portraits were a method of intropsection, the art history books say, as well as a means to developing his skills as an artist. He also painted himself, as history goes, because he couldn't afford to pay models.
MORE: "Selfie is Word of 2013"
While most present-day self-portrait artists, equipped with the latest smartphone, are a far cry from Van Gogh, lots of "selfie" posters share images of themselves for a variety of reasons, from sex to altruism.
Take a look at the few examples of how "selfies" reflect a range of emotions:
Selfies can be risque......
— Gregory Gittrich (@gittrich) November 8, 2013
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) November 19, 2013
"Would you marry me, AJ ?" pic.twitter.com/YshFsmJJlD
— Ðɛvɪʟ's Fav Ðɪva ☠. (@xPunkyCakex) November 19, 2013
and too often, slightly pathetic......
My cat is sad because of selfies. pic.twitter.com/9ZR8CbpkrH
— WHY MY CAT IS SAD (@MYSADCAT) November 19, 2013