We do it from the mundane comfort of our bedrooms and offices and to commemorate special occasions, like a beach vacation or the high school prom. It has its own spot in the dictionary, right next to "selfhood" and "selfish."

And this year it earned its place as the Oxford English Dictionary's 2013 Word Of The Year. The selfie has taken over our culture -- and our smartphones.


The rise of the selfie has become universal -- between presidents, popes, celebrities and citizens alike -- and the trend is only continuing to grow.

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A recent survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 54 percent of Internet users have posted original photos online. And of those hundreds of millions of photos, many are of the self-depicting variety.

For example, currently there are nearly 62 million tagged selfie photos on Instagram, the social media tool that has significantly contributed to the personal portrait's popularity. That figure, which continues to rise every day, doesn't even begin to include the selfies shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Despite its dictionary definition, which describes the selfie as "a photograph taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website," the first mention of the word can be traced back to an Australian online forum from 2002 -- long before the days of the iPhone's front-facing cameras and the popularity of social media.

What makes the selfie so captivating -- and why do we feel compelled to take one? According to Dr. Pamela Rutledge, psychologist and director of the Media Psychology Research Center, the desire to take, post and get "likes" on selfies goes back to a biological behavior all humans are wired for.

"I think it influences our sense of social connection in the same way as it does when you go to a party and people say 'Oh I love your dress,'" Rutledge told The Huffington Post. "Biological, social validation is a real need and there is even an area of the brain that is dedicated to social activity."

There is a way to adapt to the growing selfie culture. Whether you're a selfie novice or an advanced poster, there are always things to be mindful of when you're posting, Rutledge advises. She offered two main principles to follow when it comes to posting on social media:

1.The Grandmother Rule

"Don't post anything online, whether text or visual, that you don't want grandmother or future employer to see," Rutledge said. "Selfies especially."

2.The Elevator Rule

"You wouldn't say something in an elevator that you or no one else wants to hear -- the whole world of social media is an elevator," Rutledge said. "Be aware of the breadth of platform. It's easy to think you're sharing a photo with a few people, but Instagram is public and people can stumble across things."