Are Selfies Self-Serving?

There’s a lot of buzz around a selfie that the Red Sox’s David Ortiz took with President Obama. It turns out the moment that seemed unscripted may have been all about self and product promotion.

The photo Ortiz took “with Obama during a White House Rose Garden ceremony Tuesday was orchestrated by none other than Samsung, the South Korea-based electronics giant,” reports The Washington Post’s Katie Zezima. “The picture was an immediate Internet sensation but was only later revealed to be contrived; the White House said Obama knew nothing about it.”

Ortiz, wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses tweeted: “What an honor! Thanks for the #selfie, @BarackObama”

Ironically – or not – Obama had teased Ellen DeGeneres on her show last month for her star-studded selfie taken during the live broadcast of the Oscars. The president called that Samsung product placement “a pretty cheap stunt,” Zezima writes.

But it’s not just athletes and stars who are promoting themselves or products by pretending they are engaged in unscripted moments that they just have to share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media outlets. Regular folks are getting hip to the prospect of cashing in on their private staged moments. If your moment is popular enough advertisers will come.

Color of Money Question of the Week

My Color of Money Question of the Week is: Are you buying it? Have we become consumers who are so easily manipulated?

Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com.

No Chat Today

My regularly scheduled chat has been canceled for today.

The Middle

Fewer people are in the middle.

“Nearly five years after the Great Recession ended, more people are coming to the painful realization that they’re no longer part of it,” reports the Associated Press

Former professionals, who in some cases made six-figure salaries, are stocking shelves at grocery stores. Many people are working part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs.

Since 2008, the number of people who call themselves middle class has fallen by nearly one-fifth, the AP reports, referring to a survey from Pew Research Center.

But is your economic status just a state of mind?

“Incomes or lifestyles that feel middle class in Kansas can feel far different in Connecticut. People with substantial incomes often identify as middle class if they live in urban centers with costly food, housing and transportation,” AP writes.

What does it mean to be in the middle to you?

Tax Time

I’ll confess.

My husband and I haven’t finished our taxes.

Every year, we try to be better, but with demanding jobs, three kids, volunteer work with our church and trying to fit in date nights, doing our taxes gets pushed down on our to-do list. But we’ve got to get to it this weekend.

If you’re behind like us, Brian Lund at DailyFinance provides some last-minute advice, including what to do if you owe but are scared to file because you don’t have the money to pay up. Click here for his tips.

Thank You

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the kinds words from all of you who have written or even those who didn’t but are equally concerned about my mother and me.

Thank you for your words of encouragement about my mother, who was critically injured in a fire. Please know I appreciate your kindness and prayers. She’s still in critical condition but stable.

But can you please do something for me?

Get your affairs in order. I wrote about my experience so far and probably will write more. I’m sharing what I’m going through to help you or family and friends you know.

Today, not tomorrow, start putting your affairs in order. Help eliminate or at least minimize the anxiety and frustration and even the possible fights — because you know your family — that will occur because you didn’t do some estate planning.

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.