Selfies, Kilroy, singular, collective history markers

Selfies, Kilroy, singular, collective history markers
January 30, 2017 Bridget Jensen

“Selfies” are becoming a natural part of everyday activity. If you pay attention to others around, you will notice that someone nearby is often using a phone, or similar hand-held device taking pictures of themselves.

No longer is another person needed to preserve our own moments.

As the late David Carr, New York Times media critic observed,  “My assistance was not required. As I watched, the young couple mounted their phone on a collapsible pole, then extended it outward, the camera now able to capture the moment in wide-screen glory.”

I take selfies, not as much as most, but there is the occasional moment that needs to be captured and no one is around. Just last weekend I took a selfie with my boyfriend while we were up on a ski lift. That image of the two of us, having fun, enjoying the day, up, up above everyone else, was something I wanted to be able to remember for years to come.

While I can see why Carr may bring up narcissism when talking about selfies, I also think that in some cases today, selfies involve more than one person making a memory. I look at it as a collective desire to capture moments throughout our daily lives.

Now do not get me wrong, there are plenty of people in this world who are narcissistic and use selfies as a way to prove that. So, in a sense, yes, I do agree with portions of Carr’s column referring to narcissism.

Looking back at a prior generation’s iconic expressions, I can relate some of what Carr talks about to Kilroy graffiti, a meme embraced by soldiers of WWII. This mini comic indicates the importance of all the soldiers coming together. Instead of them drawing them selves they made something less narcissistic, an icon to represent the soldiers as one group fighting for the same thing.

“Kilroy was here” is a little drawing that circulated the globe during WWII. “The image was popularized during World War II by the United States soldiers who drew the man and expression on walls and other surfaces,” reports one website on meme history.

Somehow, it seems, that sketch embodied hope for all the G.I soldiers out there fighting.

Was it hope, humor, or just the familiar face in the mini comic that kept these soldiers going?

The Kilroy graffiti drawing dates back to May 13th, 1937, first seen, or at least preserved from what we know, on a wall at Fort Knox.

In the late ’90s, Kilroy, upper row, second from right, found his way onto a New Zealand mailbox, included in this set of stamps.

It amazes me that something suck around for so long for soldiers but, as I said before it must have been a sign of hope, something to keep them going. This little drawing of a man with a long nose peering over a wall made history,  becoming more and more popular over time.  In 1997, Kilroy’s mug resurfaced in a wacky set of New Zealand stamps.

This doodle made quite the impression on the war world of the soldiers, seen drawn on concrete walls and equipment used during the war. Shortly after the year 2005 this image seemed to die off in a way, not as popular or newly drawn as much.

While it had a good long run it is no longer an image seen so often. The history behind this image will last forever and is truly something important to all the soldiers who risked their lives for this country.

Bridget Jensen
Bridget Jensen, 23, of Palmer, Alaska, has nearly completed work on her associates degree in computer technology. She is continuing her studies in Arts and Sciences at UAF, working towards an interdisciplinary bachelors degree. Jensen has a strong passion for photography and outdoor activities. One day she hopes to take her photography to the next level.


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