Nightly News   |  December 29, 2013

Why 2013 was the year of the selfie

The self-portrait allows you to take control of your own image dominated 2013. It was Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year and even the Pope took one. Here’s why the selfie is so culturally relevant. NBC’s Jenna Wolfe reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, why 2013 may go down as the year of the selfie. as our jenna wolf reports, it's a fad no one seems to be able to resist.

>> reporter: call it the digital answer to the self-portrait. the selfie, an empowering act where you control your own image. what is a selfie?

>> when you take a picture of yourself and then you post it.

>> sometimes people take a selfie to show where they are. like, look, i'm on a lake. but one thing they always have in common is a lot of posing.

>> reporter: who's taking selfies? it's not just your kids. the pope has posed, as did the president this year. most of hollywood snapped selfies. it was oxford dictionary 's 2013 word of the year.

>> we really are looking inward. it's something that everyone can engage in. all you need is a phone.

>> reporter: the phone and a good high angle, apparently.

>> you want to get it up like this.

>> why?

>> that way your arm's not in the picture.

>> reporter: the advent of the front-facing camera in 2010 suddenly put the power and creativity of self-snaps directly in our hands. but it's not enough to just take a selfie. posting them on social media sites like twitter, facebook, and instagram has become part of our digital identities. and for celebrities, that's key.

>> by posting selfies of themselves all over the place, they're actually connecting with their fans in an authentic, real way.

>> reporter: but does this obsession with the selfie make us a selfish culture?

>> the more social media platforms we have, we're going to keep posting.

>> reporter: bottom line, if this scene is all too familiar --

>> hi, excuse me. can you take a picture for me? can you get the tree in the background? and can you get me from like here up? is it perfect? and that's why we take selfies. jenna wolf, nbc news, new york.