Here it is: the star-filled selfie that broke Twitter. Source: Twitter

The Ellen Oscars Selfie and Western Civilization

Kirsten Salyer writes about consumer culture for Bloomberg View and is the site's engagement editor. She has also written for Condé Nast Traveler, Texas Monthly and Houston Community Newspapers. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and international studies from Northwestern University.
Read More.
a | A

We've reached peak selfie.

Ellen DeGeneres broke Twitter last night when the Academy Awards host took a selfie with a group of celebrities. With that one slightly out-of-focus, A-list shot, she beat President Barack Obama's record-setting "four more years" tweet by getting more than 2.5 million retweets. Ellen for president.

What does this say about us? What does this mean? Let's ask the Internet:

  1. Meryl Streep is adorable. The actress, who was nominated for the 18th time last night, confessed: "I've never tweeted before!"
  2. Kevin Spacey is a photobomb genius. Just look at that face.
  3. Bradley Cooper's arms aren't long enough.

OK, but what does it really mean? Can brands learn a lesson from this awesome example of viral reach? (I'm looking at you, Samsung.) Does this speak to the power of celebrity and our desire to embrace the idea that they are really just like us? (You're one stumble away from pushing too hard, Jennifer Lawrence.) Has social media so infected our lives that no moment is truly memorable or special unless it is also recorded and reinforced with likes?

And what about the act of the selfie, which rose from a form of tween self-expression to become the Oxford Dictionaries' word of the yearin 2013? Right now there are more than 82 million photos on Instagram tagged #selfie. We could question what so many selfies does to our relationships, analyze the optimal angle of the head tilt or examine geographic and demographic patterns. We could blame stars like the scandalous Kim Kardashian or shirtless James Franco for introducing the rest of Hollywood to the latest tool in shameless self-promotion.

There is another possibility. More than 2.5 million people on Twitter clicked a button because the funny lady on TV told them to. For one brief instance, those people shared in what's arguably the biggest-ever Internet inside joke. Let's leave it at that. Otherwise, the joke's on you.

(Kirsten Salyer is social media editor for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Frank Wilkinson at