The word ‘selfie’ was known as Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013, and since then the selfie phenomenon has ensued. There are so many different ideas on what is considered a selfie and more importantly, how and if it’s considered healthy.
I don’t entirely know where I stand on this topic, but that aside, I am indeed guilty of taking a selfie or two. And usually, when I’m on the quest to take the perfect selfie, I may snap a few more photos than the one you see posted online. For some bizarre reason, this is what people see as a huge problem in the world of selfie-taking. Because, you know, it’s not like there were any other photos taken than this one single image of Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Vogue.
They must’ve taken this photo in one shot, with no vanity or regards for her appearance whatsoever.
So, you get my point. I don’t think that’s a problem. To me, wanting to have a nice photo of yourself is something very liberating and should be celebrated. We live in a world that tells us how we should look and what we should strive to be, and if taking a photo of yourself in spite of all of that, and being proud of it makes you a narcissist? Than we have a very big issue surrounding what people deem to actually be a mental illness.
It really comes back to the whole concept of “the self”. Taking a selfie might seem self-indulgent, but how does this differ from writing a blog about yourself? Or writing an autobiography? Whether we like it or not, we are consumed by ourselves, and some of these things are just ways we find our place in the world– or give ourselves a platform to have a place.
In Jill W. Rettburg’s book, Seeing Ourselves Through Technology: How We Use Selfies, Blogs and Wearable Devices to See and Shape Ourselves, she talks about this history of self-portraits and the very first autobiographies. The difference in selfies today than the fragmented self-portrait paintings of the past, is that the camera is no longer a barrier between the subject and the viewer, “the outstretched arm is like a (forced) embrace, placing the viewer between the face of the person photographed and the camera (Warfield, 2014).”
Because of the drastic shift social media has made in society, I think we want people to step into our lives a little bit more. Maybe privacy is definitely not the sanctity it once was, we are now in an age where we want to share. Taking selfies or photos of our everyday, mundane lives and sharing this with the online world creates some kind of link or connection between all of us. While it might not make sense to some older generations, because life’s all a matter of what you’re used to, for us, it’s about communicating and making a connection with others.
Jennifer Saunders says, “Girls are now getting ill because all they spend their lives doing is finding the perfect selfie.” A 2015 study showed that women spend an average 5 hours a week perfecting selfies. “I hate the way it makes girls think they should look,” she said. “That Kim Kardashian look, it’s so automaton.” (Hinde)
Thank you Ms. Saunders for your opinion, and while yes, this survey showed that women between the ages of 16-25 were most obsessed with selfies and spend 16 minutes on one selfie session and repeat this three times a day, there is NO science to show that this behaviour is making us “ill”.
In FACT, “Researchers from the University of California, Irvine studied college students and found that snapping selfies and sharing images with friends had a positive effect on their psychological and emotional states.” (Holmes)
There are a whole lot of different aspects when it comes to taking a selfie. Confidence and self-gratification mostly come into play. I think it becomes a matter of how this effects you. Getting a number of likes on a photo and some pleasant comments is of course going to boost your confidence, and that’s great. I think it’s only when we let this become a controlling aspect of our moods that there is a problem.
For just one moment though, we need to look outside ourselves. We’re being told that selfies are harmful to ourselves, because as humans, everything is about us. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is affecting others.
“A dolphin has reportedly died in Argentina after beachgoers surrounded the animal and pulled it from the water for photos.
It’s the second dolphin to be killed by selfie-crazed swimmers in a year in the South American country.” (Dengate)
Maybe we need to stop telling everyone how their mental states are at risk because of this selfie-craze, and instead teach them how to not use it as a weapon or means of harming living creatures.
Take safe selfies, don’t harm others in the process.
Dengate, Cayla. “Second Baby Dolphin Killed By Selfie-Taking Swimmers In Argentina”. Huffington Post Australia, 2017, Web. 13 Mar. 2017.
Hinde, Natasha. “Jennifer Saunders Believes Girls’ Quest For The Perfect Selfie Is Making Them ‘Ill'”. Huffington Post Australia, 2017, Web. 13 Mar. 2017.
Holmes, Lindsay. “Science Says Selfies Can Make You Happier And More Confident”. Huffington Post Australia, 2017, Web. 13 Mar. 2017.
Rettberg, Jill W. Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, 1st ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2014. Print.