Selfies are killing the autograph. As a kid, I remember hanging out at batting practice for the Kansas City Royals, football practice for the Arkansas Razorbacks and even ringside to hunt down pro wrestler “Bulldog” Bob Brown to get autographs. I don’t know where any of those are today.
Yesterday’s autograph seekers are today’s selfie seekers. Sure, there is still a collectible industry for autographs, but true fans want something that places them in the moment and a picture together makes it more personal. The pic achieves that far more than the “To Matt” added to an indecipherable scribble of an autograph.
At its core, the main motivation for getting an autograph is to share with your friends that you had a brush with fame. In the old days (aka pre-2012) the only friends who would see that autograph would have to come to your house. Now, that selfie can be posted online and be racking up “likes” and endorphin hits within minutes. It’s emotional value vs. monetary value.
At USA Swimming autograph sessions, we used to have a no picture” rule because kids (and parents) would go behind the autograph table and bring the line to a screeching halt. We may have to reconsider that and create a “no autograph” rule and I am only half kidding.
Selfies may be killing the autograph, but this an area where social media is making the experience better and getting it right.