why does everyone love 0.5 selfies

If you have spent time on Instagram recently, you have definitely seen a selfie taken with a 0.5 lens. They are the perfect addition to your random, yet strategically planned, photo dump and the best way to show you are fun, silly, and quirky. The selfie feels like the latest epidemic to take over the app and has been subsequently labelled as the perfect way to spice up your Instagram feed. At risk of exposing myself, I will admit that I am a fan, however, their sudden surge in popularity is slightly suspicious.

0.5 selfies

Vía PrWeek

Over the years, we have seen selfies take many forms. Thanks to Paris Hilton, they were once iconic, however, they later took a cursed turn after becoming synonymous with Ellen DeGeneres. We even have a national selfie day – June 21st if you want to put it in your calendar. From duck lips to selfie sticks, I thought we had seen it all when it came to taking selfies, however now we have a new addition: the 0.5. The 0.5 selfie is one taken with an ultra-wide lens located on your back camera.

While there are no rules pertaining to how they are taken, they are primarily snapped from an upward angle, resulting in interesting geometric distortions. Unlike other photography trends which have infiltrated our feeds, including everyone’s obsession with disposable cameras and the triumphant return of digital cameras, the 0.5 selfie is the easiest one to partake in; you do not have to buy anything. With 95% of adults aged 18–49-year-old owning a smartphone, and the feature being available on both Samsung and iPhone, anyone can take a 0.5 selfie.

0.5 selfies

It is no coincidence this type of selfie has risen in popularity, as aesthetically speaking, it makes sense – it is indicative of the latest ‘perfectly imperfect’ phase on Instagram. With social media (supposedly) moving away from curation, and celebrating imperfection, the 0.5 selfie conforms to our current idea of how we ‘should’ be posting on social media. No, 0.5 selfies are not subverting beauty standards, nor pushing boundaries.

However, unlike the boring front-facing ‘millennial’ selfie, a selfie taken with a 0.5 lens plays with angles and proportions, creating a sense of ‘innovation’ – a characteristic often associated with Gen Z. When I participate in the trend, the photos look weird – but that is the point. The long arms and enlarged foreheads that were once strategically removed using FaceTune, are now prominent features of 0.5 selfies. Where it does take a slightly sinister turn is the recognition of how ‘perfectly imperfect’ they are, ultimately reducing their spontaneous nature and subsequently revealing a hidden layer of manufactured authenticity.

Or, perhaps the 0.5 selfie is Gen Z’s latest attempt to modernise trends from the 2000s. Interesting camera angles are not a new phenomenon, nor are photos taken with a rear camera, – if anything, the 0.5 selfie is the love child of a photo taken with a fisheye lens or a Polaroid camera. The fisheye lens, which was popular in the 90s/2000s, utilises a similar wide lens and produces distorted images. As seen in many music videos, including Missy Elliott’s ‘the Rain’ or TLC’s ‘No scrubs’, they are clearly a point of reference for the 0.5 selfie. We can see the Polaroid-like nature of the 0.5 selfie, as there is a ‘trust the process’ element to taking one.

Using your rear camera means you cannot predict the result of the photo which, to some, makes the process more exciting. You cannot deny that the 0.5 selfie has a ‘Y2K but make it feel modern’ sensibility, but then again, so does every trend from the 2020s. The social currency of anything y2k or 90s related is immense; there is an automatic rejection of anything relating to the 2010s. As a result, trend analysts and social media users are constantly trying to predict which noughties craze is the next to return.

When asking friends about the craze, I was hit with annoyingly unhelpful answers. “It just looks better” or “Um… I don’t know I like it” did not aid my investigation in the slightest, so I spoke to Barcelona based photographer Carla Deltoro about the latest trend. Aside from noting the influence of celebrity, Carla tells me that the main appeal of the photo is the fact that it is taken from a subjective point of view, creating the illusion of ‘honesty.’ As we are craving authenticity online, we have seen the move towards more personal photos – including candid, and now, the 0.5. Many 0.5 selfies are taken in an inmate setting, such as with friends or even during mundane activities, heightening their honest feeling.

Additionally, Carla recognises that it is important to consider the influence of societal pressures and Instagram culture when trying to understand the appeal of 0.5 selfies. Carla calls it ‘la cultura de delagez’ and notes that while yes, the 0.5 photos can produce large bug-like eyes and huge foreheads, the angle at which the photo is taken from can make figures look smaller, which many people also want.

Whether the 0.5 selfie is evidence Gen z taking a less narcissistic approach to social media is still up for debate. Yes, the act of posting ‘unflattering’ photos does indicate a new carefree nature to social media, however, we have to question the extent to which we can actually consider these photos as ‘unflattering’. To many, the additional effort to cultivate a ‘care-free vibe’ ultimately destabilises the idea that Gen Z doesn’t care about social media at all. The reality is selfies, no matter how curated or spontaneous, indicate a level of narcissism, but a little bit of narcissism is not inherently a bad thing.

@instagramcreators Have you hopped on the 0.5 selfie trend yet? ✨ @shuang breaks down how to get the perfect shot 📸 #InstagramTips #PhotoTricks #Selfie #Tutorial ♬ original sound - Instagram Creators

Personally, I am not mourning the death of the traditional selfie and far as Instagram trends go, I am a fan of the 0.5 selfie. Unlike the other trends which have sprung during this new era of authenticity online, this one feels the least annoying. Selfies have always been a staple within Instagram culture – producing trends which have lasted for years, and if people are trying to make them more interesting to look at, who am I to complain?

Joelle Bello @joellebello