James Franco defends his love of selfies in New York Times essay

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"Selfie" was declared the word of the year for 2013 by the Oxford Dictionaries, and for good reason. The use of the social media self-portrait sent stars like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and James Franco to new levels of popularity and infamy, and according to Franco, they were posted with clear purpose.

The former "Freaks and Geeks" star wrote an essay for The New York Times titled "The Meaning of the Selfie." Though it is a look at the entire concept of a selfie, the essay gets really interesting when Franco explains his stance on the celebrity selfie.

"I can see which posts don't get attention or make me lose followers: those with photos of art projects; videos telling the haters to go away (in not so many words); and photos with poems. (Warning: Post your own, and you'll see how fast people become poetry specialists and offer critiques like 'I hate you, you should die.')," Franco writes. "But a well-stocked collection of selfies seems to get attention. And attention seems to be the name of the game when it comes to social networking."

He continues, "I've found that Instagram works much like the movie business: You're safe if you trade 'one for them' with 'one for yourself,' meaning for every photo of a book, painting or poem, I try to post a selfie with a puppy, a topless selfie or a selfie with Seth Rogen, because these are all things that are generally liked."

Franco also discusses the way stars like Bieber, Taylor Swift and rumored fling Ashley Benson all post selfies to Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts.

"Look at other accounts with millions of followers ... and you'll find backstage selfies, selfies with friends, selfies with pets," he writes. "These stars know the power of their image, and how it is enhanced when garnished with privileged material -- anything that says, 'Here is a bit of my private life.'"

According to Franco, he considers the selfie to be an important aspect of everyone's presence online. If you don't have a selfie, you won't be getting attention from Franco.

"I am actually turned off when I look at an account and don't see any selfies, because I want to know whom I'm dealing with," he concludes. "In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, 'Hello, this is me.'"

Photo/Video credit: Instagram, New York Times