“Cremated remains, xylophones and lawn chairs are not allowed in the Magic Kingdom, and now selfie sticks aren’t either… selfie sticks were also forbidden at the Coachella music festival and Comic-Con — hardly known as bastions of decorum. Much of the research on selfies reveals that (surprise!) people who take a lot of them tend to have narcissistic, psychopathic and Machiavellian personality traits — which may explain why they are oblivious when they bonk you on the head with their selfie sticks.” K. Murphy, New York Times
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: What Selfie Sticks Really Tell Us About Ourselves By Kate Murphy, New York Times
“Since the advent of front-facing cameras on cellphones, selfies have been a matter of eye-rolling and vague embarrassment even among those who take them (often making a pouty lip “duckface” if female or asymmetrically setting the eyebrows if male).
Now, though, it seems a line has been drawn at mounting a camera phone on a perspective-enhancing stick — as if to confine selfies’ intrusion into society to at most arm’s length.
Psychologists, technologists, behavioral economists, art historians and futurists differ in their interpretations of the selfie and the risks people are willing to take socially and physically to snap them…People forget that narcissism is not just about being an egomaniac —
it’s also driven by underlying insecurity, said Jesse Fox, an assistant professor at Ohio State University’s School of Communication who studies the personalities of selfie takers. They need to get likes’ to get validation…
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reports a marked increase in demand for cosmetic surgery as people become disappointed comparing their selfies with the images they see in the mirror.
And as facial recognition software continues to improve, frequent selfie takers may also be giving away their very identity. The more you post pictures of yourself online, the better companies, government agencies and criminals are able to identify you, not only online but sitting in a restaurant or walking down the street… Bad news for devotees of the duckface.”
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the KWL chart to list the information they already know about “selfies”. Later in the Post- Reading segment of the lesson, students can fill in what they’ve learned about the topic.
II. While Reading Tasks
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Since the advent cellphones selfies have become popular.
- Fatal accidents are caused by self-portraits in precarious poses.
- People forget that narcissism is driven by insecurity.
- People need to get ‘likes’ to get validation.
- People get obsessed with selfies.
- It’s an addictive drug.
- We are so bombarded by media telling us how we should look.
- There is the basic need to be acknowledged, or even adored.
- The recent selfie-stick bans are for safety.
- The selfie phenomenon is more a cultural movement.
Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- Duckface is an expression often used by people swimming.
- Psychologists differ in their interpretations of the selfie and the risks people are willing to take.
- Selfie sticks were banned due to public safety concerns.
- There have been a series of fatal accidents resulting from self-portraits in precarious poses.
- Older people never post selfies.
- People who take a lot of selfies tend to have narcissistic personality traits.
- Research suggests people are more likely to text selfies when they happy.
- People in the U.S. post the most selfies.
- With filters and apps people can make themselves look better.
- Frequent selfie takers may also be giving away their identity.
Grammar Focus: Preposition Exercise
Prepositions: in, for, of, with, by, on, at, to, as, into, around, over, from, during,
Directions: The following sentences are from the news article. For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed above. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.
Since the advent___front-facing cameras___ cellphones, selfies have been a matter___ eye-rolling and vague embarrassment. ___ if ___ confine selfies’ intrusion___ society___ ___ most arm’s length. Moreover, studies show that regular users___social media tend ___ score lower___ measures___ belonging and meaningful existence if they are precluded ___posting content and feel ostracized if they don’t get “likes”.
III. Post Reading Tasks
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
Directions: Have students fill in the last column of the KWL chart if they used one in the pre-reading segment of this lesson.
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.
1. The following two statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.
“People forget that narcissism is not just about being an egomaniac — it’s also driven by underlying insecurity, They need to get ‘likes’ to get validation.”
“…selfies can also be seen as simply another form of communication. After all, a text is only 160 characters but a picture is worth a thousand words. And many in the technology field argue that selfies are a source of empowerment because they grant individuals a high degree of control over how they present themselves to the world.”
2. Do you or someone you know take selfies? If so, describe the occasions. How often do you take selfies?
3. In your opinion, is taking selfies a good idea? Why or why not?