The Philippines has another accolade – it is home to two of the world’s 10 most “selfiest” cities.
Time Magazine took time to research the answer to what perhaps is the most pressing question of modern times. Everyone takes a selfie. To answer how many people does this – and where – Time dug into Instagram’s API and checked out all the photos with the #selfie hashtags on them, then mapped out their locations.
To my surprise, Makati, the city where I was born and currently working at, is on the top of Time Magazine’s list. To its defense though, data from this city was combined with Pasig city, which is located nearby Makati (see last paragraph as to why). There are 258 selfie takers out of 100,000 people in both cities combined, enough to overtake Manhattan in New York, where there are 202 selfie takers out of the same number of people.
Apart from Makati and Pasig, Cebu City in Central Philippines made it on the top 10 selfiest cities as well at number 9.
Makati is the financial center of the Philippines and home to 500,000 people. Since it is a financial center, it is naturally the home to a lot of office professionals. With such a high concentration of the working class, it is natural that a number of these employees perhaps have access to the Internet, allowing them to be active on social media on their computers and/or smartphones.
Being home to many office jobs also means that there are many establishments that offer WiFi access to the Internet. The famous Ayala Triangle at the heart of the Makati Business District has free WiFi, thus allowing anyone in the park to take a photo while in there.
The Philippines being on top of yet another list related to social media and technology is also fairly natural. In 2011, the country was named the social media capital in the world – fueled by high Internet penetration and high smartphone adoption rate. Not to mention numerous mobile phone data plans in the country, allowing just about anyone to access these social networks for free for a certain time period or day.
Other than Makati, emerged on fifth of the list is Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, where there are 141 selfie-takers per 100,000 people. George Town, Malaysia, also emerged as 10th on the list, with 95 selfie-takers per 100,000 people.
Time’s declaration of the world’s selfiest cities comes with a disclaimer though. According to the report, they only tracked down the selfies based on the hashtag. As usual not all with the hashtag #selfie are in fact selfies. The magazine ran some tests indicating that a portion of the #selfie hashtag actually included pictures that are not selfies. They also attempted to find non-English versions of the term but none of the suggested translations returned a significant amount of data.
The most important disclaimer is about the location. They only included those photos with the hashtag #selfie as well as geographic coordinates. Some of the selfies that were accounted for a specific city might actually be from a different city if the area is very near. Time Magazine however thought that this is an acceptable tradeoff for the speed of this method of geocoding, which also serves to group the innermost suburbs with the city that they surround.
With the Philippines and Malaysia cities taking four top spots on Time Magazine’s list, Asians really do love take selfies.