Selfies..if you don’t know what a selfie is, I’m not sure where you have been living for the past 2 years. The act of perfecting the sought out ‘selflie’ is an art in itself.
The art of selfie taking has now become somewhat a brand new culture and a worldwide practice. But why do we as humans have such an obsession with selfies? Is it to create some form of self-validation or create some sort of self worth in response to the amount of ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ a single photo gains?
One girl who found herself too deep within the selfie culture is Instagram star, Essena O’Neill. Her Instagram profile is one that is admired by a mere 32.7k followers, who desire her life, her clothes, her beauty and her healthy, fit body. However, O’Neill recently came forward and publicly “quit Instagram” and admitted that what she was creating for her profile was not at all like what she encountered daily despite what it seemed.
Once deciding to take a stand and show her large audience what actually goes into taking one simple selfie, she changed most of the captions on the images to a paragraph explaining the lengths she would go to in order to capture the perfect photo.
She describes that one picture would take her hours to create the “perfect selfie”, to stand just the right way so she was moderately happy with how her body appeared, sometimes going to extremes such as not eating for days to appear a certain way physically. All of this just so she could feel some sort of “happiness” and feel some form of self-validation in terms of the amount of likes generated per photos.
Her resignation from social media was uploaded to YouTube so she could consistently explain to her large audience of followers why she was doing it and what her social media career was doing to her mentally, physically and emotionally. In her YouTube video, a distraught O’Neill explains she “didn’t know what was real and what was not” because she let her self “become so defined by something that is not real.”
So to what extent do we become so consumed in this new selfie culture that it eventually overtakes our lives?
This is an very clear example of what some people crave when they upload a selfie to a social media platform but what it can also do to one’s self-esteem and self-worth.
The new “selfie culture” can have a dark side with several negative psychological effects (Birch, 2016). A 2015 study of 800 men concluded that those who post more selfies than others are more narcissistic and show some signs of psychopathy. The study’s lead author Jesse Fox, from the Ohio State University, said, “An interesting finding stated that these men also more prone to self-objectification.”
Selfies are sure to be around for several more years and the culture will develop further and further, but when is it too much? When does it become a self gratifying and self validating experience? For most people who use social media, myself included, generally post their content in hope to reach a certain number of ‘likes’ or ‘re-tweets’ etc.