There was no selfie stick, no hashtags and no sharing with his BFF. In fact, when Robert Cornelius took his historic selfie, he sat still as a stone for 15 minutes, then watched the photo slowly appear on a silver-plated sheet of copper as he breathed in dangerous mercury fumes.
That was instant gratification in 1839.
Cornelius, using a wooden box fitted with an opera glass, likely deserves credit for taking the world’s first selfie. He didn’t make the picture out of vanity, but as an experiment to test a silver-plating method for the daguerreotype photographic process, which had been introduced worldwide just three months before Cornelius’ self-portrait.
We are in the middle of the cap-and-gown selfie season, when dorky high school and college graduates hold up the line to snap a quick picture with the person handing them the diploma. The relatively new custom drags out an already long and boring commencement ceremony. It’s harmless otherwise.
But a university in Malaysia didn’t see it that way when it suspended one snap-happy graduate for two years with one official saying, “Let them call me cruel, but I’d rather let a child die than lose our customs.”
According to a report in TODAY, an English-language newspaper in Singapore, Muhammed Hasrul Haris Mohd Radzi apologized and said he was just excited when he took the picture of himself with the school’s chancellor during a recent commencement ceremony at Universiti Teknologi Mara Lendu in Malacca.