Are selfies the ultimate expression of narcissism? Maybe. Some psychologists have even linked the vexing fad to serious mental health issues. But for #missionsmile and Indiana-based lifestyle vloggers Mark E. Miller and partner Ethan Hethcote, that's all a bunch of bull.
"The act of taking a selfie is showing how happy you are," a topless Hethcote firmly told Cultist in front of Ocean Drive's kingdom of drag queens, The Palace. "It's showing that happiness and spreading it."
In fact, the company and the two YouTubers like selfies so much that they decided to set a world record of taking the most selfies in one hour on South Beach's solemn shores for the launch of the #missionsmile movement. The claim to conquer even caught the attention of the official judge of all things holy-shit-did-that-really-just-happen, Guinness World Records.
The record-breaking task might sound easy, but there were rules placed to achieve the highest level of self-indulgence.
"The way this works is it's not just one person taking photos of themselves, but they have to have a different person in each photo that they take," explained Official Guinness World Records adjudicator, Kimberly Partrick. "The challenge is about getting engagement from the crowd wherever you are."
And boy, did she mean challenge.
"I'm truly out of breath right now," Miller, a recent graduate from Ball State University said after running from beach-dweller to beach dweller, taking selfies with each and every one of them from 12th Street all the way to 9th.
Though taking selfies proved an impactful way to launch #missionsmile, the hashtag touches on much more than just cellular self-portraits. Its sole purpose is to make people do just as its hashtag states - smile.
"#missionsmile is a movement of the people," Miller confirmed. "We're trying to get people to smile more. Anyone can be involved. The easiest way to do it is going into the site and you can accept 'missions' or acts of kindness." Paying it forward, so to speak.
"It's an incentive to not only smile, but to do it with a purpose," participant Charlie Delgado told us. "Being invited to be a part of a Guinness World Record is awesome, but the chain reaction of doing something good to make someone smile is the best feeling."
By participating in these random acts of kindness of helping a little old lady with her groceries, buying a random stranger a cup of Joe at your local "Bucks," or, heck, even plucking your boyfriend's back hair, you'll help send positive notes into the universe and start a ripple affect of positivity across the nation - or, at least that's what they aspire to do.
"This is the first city that [#missionsmile] is targeting," Hethcote said -- a natural choice, given that Miami is the third most selfie-obsessed city in the world -- "but we want it to spread like wild fire."
And spread they did. The two vloggers -- an openly gay couple who fancy promoting the message of positivity on their YouTube channel -- thought they surpassed the previous record of 50 selfies per hour by a landslide.
"I would say close to 200 selfies were taken today," Hethcote said, revealing the guestamation of their number for the day.
But when it came down to it, only Partrick had the power of determining the real number.
All were on the edge of their seats, biting the last of their fingernails, and anxiously awaiting that faithful number of self-sufficient smiles.
"355 selfies!" Partrick blurted out through a microphone as she held out an official plaque that read, "The most self-portrait photographs (selfies) taken in one hour was achieved by #MissionSmile (USA) in Miami, Florida, USA on 3 May 2014."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
So how did Mark and Ethan react to knowing they crushed the competition and snagged the title of being some serious selfie hoes?
"We have the ultimate bragging rights," Miller boasted with confidence. "I can take a better selfie than you can," he laughed.
Hethcote, on the other hand, was simply content to make a successful impact for the launch of #missionsmile. "We're just happy to be the spearhead of this campaign, to get the word out about #missionsmile and doing so in such a fun way."