TIME Food & Drink

You Can Finally Start That Shrine to Yourself With This Selfie Toaster

Vermont Novelty Toaster

Eat Instagram for breakfast

For further evidence that selfie culture is turning from a form of self-expression into pure kitsch, we offer up the Vermont Novelty Toaster Corporation’s new selfie toaster. For only $75, you, too, can put your face on a piece of bread and then eat it for breakfast in the morning. It only takes a week to deliver!

“Yes, you don’t have to be famous or Jesus to have your face on toast,” company president Galen Dively says in the device’s press release. But you do have to pretty narcissistic to buy a toaster for the sole purpose of making your face appear more places!

It’s one thing to take a photo of yourself and Snapchat it to a friend in an earnest attempt at communicating something; it’s entirely another to stamp that face all over the world around you, turning your kitchen into a nightmarish temple to yourself.

With the help of CNC technology, making a custom-design toaster is cheaper than ever, so you can buy a toaster that prints just about anything, according to the company. They even take Bitcoins. Duh.

TIME movies

VIDEO: Space Aliens Meet iPhones in an Exclusive Clip from Earth to Echo

Unlike E.T., today's aliens want to use the phone to do something other than call home

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The idea that aliens might choose to communicate with Earthlings via our technology is far from a new one. It’s in movies from Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Contact, and — sort of — in real life, as the choice to send vinyl records on the Voyager space explorer shows. But none of the people involved in those stories had something that almost everyone has today: a cell phone.

The upcoming movie Earth to Echo, out July 2, changes that. A bit of family-friendly sci-fi in the E.T. vein, it’s about a group of friends who — after receiving strange cell phone messages — suspect that something fishy is going on in their neighborhood, right before the area is to be bulldozed for a highway construction project. And, as the exclusive sneak peek above shows, the kids at the center of the story are more than proficient when it comes to their phones.

The phones are also how first contact takes place—as seen in a second clip, below—and how some of the movie’s scenes are presented, mixing a found-footage style with the first-person GoPro aesthetic.

The idea that cell phones would ruin the plots of older movies isn’t a new one — for example, the entire plot of Home Alone could have been avoided if Kevin could call his folks at the airport — but not everything is messed up by constant communication. As Earth to Echo shows, sometimes the cell phone is the plot.

TIME

National Geographic’s New Ad Campaign Features Animals Taking Selfies 

Growl for the camera! 

Cat posed by their owners to look like they’re taking selfies might already be a meme, but what about the rest of the animal kingdom? Shouldn’t pandas, gorillas, and kangaroos also get a chance to take selfies? That’s exactly what National Geographic’s latest advertising campaign imagines. And if we had to judge, they’re a lot cuter than the cat shots.

“There are lots of terrible animal pictures out there,” the ads read. “The best nature images are here.” National Geographic might have a monopoly on sprawling nature panoramas filled with herds of elephants, but their selfies are also fun. A gorilla poses, Kardashian-like, in front of a bathroom mirror. A panda goes for the reflective wall of an elevator. A koala prefers the bedroom as a backdrop.

The campaign’s art director Silvio Medeiros told DesignBoom that the message is tahat even with Instagram, great photos can still be taken. “Now that anybody has access to mobile phones with good cameras, we can all be photographers.”

Other creatures, including a polar bear and a raccoon, can be found on Instagram, the selfie’s natural home. The rest of us should start taking strategy notes—these are totally getting tons of likes.

TIME celebrity

Here’s Ai Weiwei’s Selfie with Martha Stewart

The domestic arts diva met up with the artist, political activist and prolific selfie snapper during her recent trip to China

What do Martha Stewart and Elton John have in common? They’ve both taken selfies with Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, Shanghaiist notes.

Stewart traveled to China this weekend to take part in a women’s empowerment conference where she encouraged women to bake at home, Wall Street Journal reports. “I don’t see why China, with its huge population, wouldn’t have people who enjoy a cupcake,” she said during her third-ever visit to the country, where the majority of homes and apartments do not have ovens.

During the trip, she crossed paths with Weiwei, whose Instagram feed makes a strong case for the use of selfies as an art form.

[Shanghaiist]

TIME selfies

Woman Gets Plastic Surgery So She Can Look Better in Selfies

Selfie-harm?

Triana Lavey, a talent manager in Los Angeles, used filters to make her selfies look perfect. But she was tired of having to use filters at all and decided to step up her selfie game by getting plastic surgery. She “didn’t like the face staring back at her in Skype chats or on Facebook,” she told ABC News.

After undergoing surgery that included additions to her cheekbones and chin (which Lavey considered a particular problem) as well as a nose job and fat grafts, she was happy with the results. Laney then uttered the slightly dystopic line that should make us pause and consider what selfies are actually doing to us: “I feel like I look like myself, but Photoshopped,” she said.

Lavey is motivated by business concerns—Botox is a job expense. “Your selfie is your headshot,” she argues. “Your social media presence is just as important as your real-life presence.” Sure, models and celebrities have altered their bodies for a century to look good for their audiences, but now we’re making those alterations for images that we take of our own volition.

No one is forced to take selfies, but the preponderance of selfie culture inspires a heightened self-consciousness of our personal images online. Lavey was worried about how her face looked in Instagram and Facebook photos, so she changed it. The motivation is logical, to an extent, but it’s worth questioning why she had that thought in the first place.

It might be because with social media, we have all become celebrities with audiences we have to placate, snapping more selfies and sending more updates. As Lavey’s case shows, selfies aren’t so much about ourselves, but other people.

TIME

See Every #Selfie Posted on Instagram in Real Time 

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Getty Images

Feed your selfie habit

Judging selfies has become something of a habit for Internet users. Who does it better, Kim or Taylor? Even devoted selfie fans, however, will be overwhelmed by Selfeed, a website that shows every selfie posted on Instagram with the #selfie hashtag in real time.

Created by artists Tyler Madsen, Erik Carter, and Jillian Mayer, the site presents an endless deluge of self-portraits, each one on the screen for less than a second. Certain trends emerge: a downward angle, pursed lips. But more than anything, Selfeed is a pure flood of humanity.

“We created it because we wanted it to exist,” the artists told us. “We enjoy the constant flow of selfies and find it incredibly hypnotic and fascinating.” The site is “supposed to exist neutrally,” they explain. A hot-or-not, selfie-rating version would no doubt be popular, but Selfeed is about inspiration. It creates a kind of communal global, selfie that goes beyond any one person.

“Most of the selfies that are aggregated are self-portraits with one singular figure,” the artists say. “On Selfeed, these figures exist alone, but together.” What better way to connect with the world than taking a selfie and joining the feed?

TIME Sex

#AfterSex: The Instagram Selfie Trend We Don’t Need

Woman using a smartphone
Getty Images

Just put the phone down

The Internet’s latest infatuation is the #AfterSex selfie, which is exactly what it sounds like. In fact, taking a selfie after you’ve had sex might just be the new post-coital cigarette. (Unless, of course, it’s scrolling through your phone to see what you missed while otherwise occupied.)

Browse through the feed on Instagram (NSFW), and you’ll see people using the hashtag on a variety of photos: raunchy cartoons, eyeroll-worthy memes, a very relaxed looking open hand (get it?) and a surprising number of photos of actor Dave Franco (why it’s not James, the weirder brother, is anyone’s guess). But once you wade through the joke images, you get to the good stuff.

Look for the carefully filtered photos of attractive couples with bedroom eyes and tousled hair, smily coyly amid twisted bedclothes, or on sofas, or elsewhere. There’s also a number of singular selfies of one person staring moodily into the camera, often with a strategic amount of skin bared for the camera. These images have an identifiable post-coital aesthetic, a messy hint of real life that differs from the very posed, strained “sexy” selfies that populate the web. These people look… relaxed.

A similar hashtag #AfterSexHair shows a series of people showing off with beachy waves meant to emulate the carefree, look someone might have after a roll in the hay.

Of course it’s not like there’s anything new about showing off your relationship bliss. After all, couples around the world have been posting cutsey photos and status updates referencing “the boy” and “the gf” for years. But in the era of the groupie (and the belfie and the lelfie and who even knows what else), the #AfterSex selfie is a way of pushing digital boundaries (and boasting) to a new level. Anyone who sees one of the better versions of these photos will realize how amazing you are, how fulfilled you are in life and love, and damn if you don’t look good in the process.

These may seem like the ultimate overshare of life’s most intimate and private moments, but it’s an extension of a culture that places a premium on constantly sharing details about your good fortune, even though it’s actually making us miserable. CNET even posits that this could be part of a confessional trend started by apps like Secret and Whisper, both of which encourage users to share their true thoughts — often about sex, love and bodily functions — anonymously.

There’s no doubt many of the #aftersex photos are fake — because let’s be real, it takes a sincere lack of awareness to post a picture of yourself in any state of undress to the Internet at this point — but that doesn’t even matter. By declaring it a trend, it will become one. And certainly, articles like this might inspire more people to share pictures of themselves in posed, heavy-lidded bliss. The Internet knows that we can’t stop scrolling through our social networks, which is why we end up looking at a friend’s vacation photos on Facebook even though we know that it’ll only make us feel bad about ourselves. Creating and posting an evocative image is a guaranteed way to get more likes, more comments, more compliments. And any attention that accompanies an extra interesting or sexy shot will no doubt validate our sex lives or coupledom.

In an era where we decide on an outfit in a store because we’ve already snapped the perfect Instagram photo of ourselves wearing it in our mind, it’s scary to think about whether we’ll start consciously staging our most uninhibited moments. And soon, instead of thinking about what’s just happened with another human being, we’ll be arranging our every move the way we arrange our food on plates so that everything looks right before you decide on an image filter.

There are social scientists who think that posting selfies can be a healthy exercise for young people who are struggling to express themselves. But #aftersex might be the definition of taking it slightly too far.

[h/t to Nerve for spotting the trend]

TIME Smartphones

Well-Lit Selfies: Fancy Phone Features Front-Facing Flash

T2-Lumigon
The Lumigon T2 HD Android phone features a front-facing flash and is water-resistant. Lumigon

Why should the world only get to see your drop-dead gorgeous selfies when you have adequate light?

Do you have at least $1,000 to spend on a smartphone? Are you good-looking? If so, congrats, for starters.

Second, this fancy Android smartphone features a front-facing flash for its front-facing camera.

Why should the world only get to see your drop-dead gorgeous selfies when you have adequate light? You spend a lot of time in exclusive, sexily-lit clubs, yes? They’re too dark for selfies! Until now, that is.

On paper, it could be – could be – argued that the Lumigon T2 HD is slightly underpowered, with a dual-core processor and a 720p screen bobbing around in a sea of quad-core, 1080p competitors. That all-important front-facing camera is only a 2.4-megapixel jobber, too, although as every savvy shopper knows, megapixels aren’t everything.

Those qualms aside, the phone has a few tricks up its immaculately-pressed sleeve. It’s water resistant, which comes in handy considering all those exclusive, sexy, oops-I-spilled-my-drink clubs you frequent. And it’s ensconced in stainless steel and damage-resistant glass, which comes in handy if you drop the phone while showing it off to all the lesser people in the already-exclusive club. Oh, and it’s dust resistant. Let’s get real, though: You have people to handle your dust.

The phone also comes with a dock that can be programmed to turn off the phone’s visual and audible notifications when it’s docked, so you can make sure to sleep in without being bothered.

Pricing will start at around $1,000 (unlocked, off contract), and you’ll need to order it from Denmark when it’s available sometime in the second quarter.

If you’re looking for another phone with a front-facing flash, check out the Acer Liquid E3. Note, too, that there are so-so workarounds for the iPhone and other Android phones that basically entail blasting you with the white light of your phone’s screen as a photo’s being taken.

(Side note: I just had to add “selfies” to my blogging software’s dictionary. The end is near, friends.)

Lumigon T2 HD [Product Page via Digital Trends]

TIME society

How Can I Make This News Linking Selfies and Narcissism About Me?

Please compliment my hair in this selfie, it looks pretty good don't you think? DON'T YOU THINK? Jessica Roy

OK but what do you think of MY selfies?

The International Business Times reports that scientists have found a link between selfies and narcissism which honestly makes no sense because it’s like, how else am I supposed to derive self-worth other than posting filtered photos of my face for creepy dudes I went to high school with to save to their desktops?

“Selfies frequently trigger perceptions of self-indulgence or attention-seeking social dependence that raises the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t spectre of either narcissism or low self-esteem,” said psychologist Pamela Rutledge, according to the IB Times.

So, to recap: Selfies are narcissistic. Selfies matter. Selfies are a cry for help. Selfies are feminist. Selfies ruin relationships.

How does my hair look, btw?

TIME video

30-Second Tech Trick: How to Take the Best Selfies

How to check your light, set up your shot and ultimately do what's in everyone's best interests. Here's the 30-second tech trick for taking better pictures of yourself

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