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0.5 selfies are gen Z’s latest obsession with candid distortions

Every day is a new aesthetic and every picture in a photo dump carousel is a new memory on Instagram. While 2022 has officially taken the rose-tinted glasses off the social media experience, with crying selfies, BeReal, finstas, shitposting and spitballing in the forefront, a peculiar style of visual documentation is increasingly gripping gen Zers online.

Introducing the wildly distorted world of 0.5 selfies, a social media trend all about living your best candid life and trusting the process while you’re at it.

What is a 0.5 selfie?

Pronounced as a “point five” selfie, the picture in question is essentially taken with the ultra-wide angle lens of one’s smartphone camera. The 0.5x mode of a camera, to be exact. Unlike a traditional selfie, for which we flaunt the flattering side of our faces and prep endlessly, a 0.5 selfie is less curated and encapsulates a spur-of-the-moment aesthetic.

The result? Noodly legs, buggy eyes, arms which stretch on for days while your forehead is plastered across the frame for the world to witness and get an authentic glimpse into your life. In a way, 0.5 selfies are the anti-trend of poised—or sometimes Photoshopped—mirror selfies that have become a mainstay on Instagram. It ultimately conveys the fact that the user takes themselves, and social media in general, more casually than conforming to the ideals we’ve all been brought up with about our ‘public image’.

I mean, who wants to look perfect online anymore? We’re all just here for the laughs in 2022 and what better way to document this desirable absence of self-awareness than with 0.5 selfies? Plus, you get to capture your entire head-to-toe fit in just one picture. No need to pose Leandra Medine-style anymore. Win-win, if you ask me.

Now, 0.5 selfies are not to be confused with ‘half’ selfies, which are basically just pictures of your face—cropped tightly to feature your best side in the frame. Though half selfies have been around for decades, 0.5 selfies were birthed in 2019 on the iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S10. However, the trend has only started taking off in 2022, alongside the general appeal for geometric distortions—all thanks to TikTok’s favourite “Train Guy,” Francis Bourgeois.

Equipped with a GoPro, Bourgeois is well-known for his enthusiastic trainspotting videos captured in ultra-wide angles. Every video which features clips recorded with the fisheye-like lens that’s angled down towards his face adds to Bourgeois’ awkward and gawky charm—earning him 2.6 and 1.7 million followers on TikTok and Instagram respectively.

The broad appeal for 0.5 selfies can also be traced back to the time everyone was placing Insta360 cameras in their mouth and walking around to show the point of view (POVs) of dogs and dinosaurs. What a time to be alive, indeed.

@insta360_official

Busy bee been working hard 🐝 @crazydudepaul 📽 w/ #insta360onex2 #insta360nosemode #fyp #animalcrossing #behindthescenes

♬ original sound - insta360_official - insta360_official

How to click a 0.5 selfie

Though the trend at hand doesn’t really need an explainer, here are some tips and tricks on how to truly nail your 0.5 selfie game.

1. Secure a smartphone with an ultra-wide camera lens

This one’s a no-brainer. The 0.5x camera mode is key to a 0.5 selfie. So start by getting your hands on an iPhone or Android smartphone with an ultra-wide camera lens to chronicle your life away with candid distortions. Once you’ve secured the bag, open the camera app and toggle the lens to the 0.5x mode. You can alternatively pinch your fingers on the screen in the same way you’d zoom out of a photo to access the ultra-wide setting.

2. Turn your camera around and get groovy

Yes, you read that right. For decades, we’ve all been accustomed to our front cameras for snapping self-portraits and typically reserve the ones in the back to capture other people and places from our POV. But 0.5 selfies are essentially the selfie’s great renaissance.

Given how the ultra-wide angle lens is built into the back cameras of phones, you can’t actually watch yourself take a 0.5 selfie. Instead, the uncertainty is hinged on blind angling and physical manoeuvring. And that’s exactly where things get interesting. If you’re planning to take a group 0.5 selfie, you have to stretch your arms as far out and up as possible in order to fit everyone in the frame. Now, if you want to maximise how much your face distorts, you have to place your phone perpendicular to your forehead—right at your hairline.

@livilewww

#greenscreen

♬ use this sound if your cute - ㅤㅤㅤ

The proportions rendered by wide-angle lenses are also worth noting in this case. For instance, subjects closer to a lens are bound to appear larger, while those farther away seem smaller. It’s good to keep these factors in mind while experimenting with the style. Don’t be afraid to use the volume buttons on your phone to snap the picture either. You should be fine as long as you don’t mistake it for the power button.

You can also play around with self-timers while taking a group 0.5 selfie. Because at the end of the day, nothing is certain until the selfie is clicked. And that’s what’s charming about the entire ordeal in the first place.

3. Share it with the world

Lastly, share your whimsical creations for the rest of the world to witness. On TikTok, 0.5 selfies have made a name for themselves with the ‘use this sound if your cute’ audio by @qlzt. “What’s 1 divided by 2?” the TikToks read, before they snap into a montage of 0.5 selfies clicked in every single style imaginable.

So what are you waiting for? March ahead and redefine the style of self-portrait Paris Hilton once proudly claimed to invent. Maybe mash it up with meta selfies to launch a parallel trend for others to jump on in the future too. In the end, just remember that the more ominous your creations are, the better.

@giolinaleone

#greenscreen .5

♬ use this sound if your cute - ㅤㅤㅤ

Meta selfies are here to revamp your Instagram feed with chaos

Earlier this year, influencer mirror selfies turned out to be a Photoshopped lie. All you needed was a spare phone or camera to hack your way into the cleanest, smudge-proof mirror selfies—minus actual mirrors. Presently, we’re witnessing our virtual existence evolve into a new era where social media is synonymous with anti-perfect content. With crying selfies, 3am photo dumps, finstas and shitposting on the forefront, a new aesthetic is gripping Instagram’s identity crisis. Introducing the meta selfie, a spur-of-the-moment trend that’ll make you wonder ‘why though?’ before trying it out yourself.

What is a meta selfie?

Coined by Refinery29, a meta selfie is essentially a photo of a selfie. Think about pointing your phone’s camera to a scene and clicking a picture with your hand on the shutter using another phone’s back camera. If that was mind-boggling, then imagine placing your phone on a desk with the front camera switched on and taking a picture of yourself with another phone focused on the first phone’s screen. Still can’t seem to wrap your head around it? Visualise yourself pointing the phone screen with the front camera on to a mirror and taking a screenshot of the entire interface. What in the Inception, right?

Every meta selfie is guaranteed to make the viewer do a double take of the moments captured. I mean they’re definitely trippy. As for the aesthetics of the image themselves, it seems that the lower the quality and the blurrier the result, the better. Here, the content is presented as relatable and candid, all the while rooted in obvious chaos. How 2021 of Instagram indeed. Then there’s the concept’s transparent crossover with the resurrection of Y2K. Not only has the 90s and 00s style bled into our phone cases but its aesthetics are now dictating how we take our photos—from bulky flip-screen video cameras carried around by Emma Chamberlain to the nostalgic digital flash photography preferred by Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa.

Privacy takes a blurry backseat

According to Refinery29, the recent boom of selfie culture is part of gen Z’s efforts to reclaim and reshape the narrative that those who take selfies are simply “self-absorbed narcissists.” Typically aimed at young women, such criticisms routinely ridicule hobbies involving social media, beauty and fashion. “The popularisation of the meta selfie feels like a departure from the effortful and contrived content that influencer fatigue is built on,” the publication added. Bye bye influencers, we’ve finally had enough.

Meta selfies instead offer the visual embodiment of the now-popular TikTok audio of Rockwell’s 1984 infamous single ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’. Attributing its eerie aesthetics to a surveillance-like feel with pixelated screens, yellow facial recognition frames and red record buttons, the trend reminds participants about their existence in a digital-first era. While this may be cause for concern for some, it reinforces the fact that gen Z is indeed the generation least concerned with how Big Tech uses their personal information. AI could soon be able to ‘hack’ humans with their biometric data and more, but do gen Zers even care as long as it aids their lifestyle? That’s a different ballpark altogether and, of course, not at all related to the fact that Zuckerberg chose to rename his company on similar grounds.

“Privacy takes a backseat in comparison to customisation and personalisation,” Refinery29 noted, adding how this trend says: we’re aware that we’re being judged and watched while our data is being mined, but we just don’t care. “It provokes viewers who eye-roll at the selfie generation, but is simultaneously poking fun at how vain it is perceived to be.”

Coveted for its raw and unfiltered vibes, meta selfies come at a time where Instagram and Facebook are in hot water for fostering body image issues and boosting anxieties around social image and money. Although this new wave of selfies is not a drastic change from the platform’s toxic ethos, it is a much-needed departure from the influencer culture Instagram typically cashes in on.

So brace yourself for some head-scratcher selfies—that you might need a pen and pad to comprehend—if this trend gains some blurry momentum. Until then, you can test the waters with the ‘boot shoot’ to show off your drip all spring.