I just got a haircut—selfie. Look at my makeup today—selfie. Waiting for class to start—selfie. Everyone, please validate my appearance by liking this picture of myself that is identical to the other 50 selfies I’ve posted this month—selfie.
I really love Instagram as an image sharing social network site, but I just can’t handle overindulgent selfies. When you post an image (or now a video) on Instagram it’s typically because you want to share it with your followers, you expect their approval in the form of “likes” and are overjoyed when that hits above a certain number. I partake in this, I get happy when a picture receives more than 11 likes and Amaro is my favorite filter. But there is something that feels so blatantly narcissistic when that image is a non-ironic shot of your face, with no other reason behind it other than wanting to show everyone your face. A selfie once in a while to document a new haircut, a piercing, or some sort of facial alteration—outside of duck-lipping—is fine. If you’re traveling and took a selfie with the Eiffel Tower in the background to show that you’re there, that’s great. As a follower I would have no problem seeing that because, A) I’m most likely your friend, meaning, B) I do care about your hair, your new nose ring, or what you’ve been up to in Europe. But once we get into the 5th selfie of the week, and the only noticeable difference is an insignificant background (if the background is even visible), then that’s where I draw the line.
(Photo credit: Relevant Magazine)
I just don’t understand this desire to expose oneself to everyone online. What compels these serial selfie-takers to dedicate the time to fix their hair, arrange themselves to achieve the most flattering angle, and take what I’m assuming are multiple shots in order to upload and edit the perfect selfie? Why? Is it to seek out the validation of their peers? Gain an ego boost? Show off to a specific person? Or maybe it’s just their inner Ron Burgundy begging everyone to “come and see how good I look!”
In an article for The Week, Chris Gayomali attempts to explain just that by interviewing a select group of selfie-takers. Although the interviewees were a very small group of people, they provided a wide range of answers. One man said he liked the idea of documenting himself, another uses it as a tool to express and interpret himself, and one woman had a very interesting response, stating that she utilizes selfies as a way of “taking ownership of [her] body and deciding how [she] want to be seen.” I admit these responses are a bit more on the intellectual side, which I appreciate. Self-documentation is a great way to create material with which to look into your past. But then you have 16-year-old Jamie who said, “sometimes I have nothing to do and I get quite bored,” and I’m pretty sure this reflects a large chunk of the selfie-taker population.
(photo credit: readwrite.com)
I’m not alone here in my distaste for selfies. A UK study proved that the more people took and posted selfies, the less their followers/friends liked them. The Huffington Post article revealing the study explains that over-sharing of selfies is damaging to offline relationships. The reason being that,
“people, other than very close friends and relatives, don’t seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves.”
I would imagine it’s not very common for people to relate to narcissistic behavior, and so seeing the same face plastered all over a newsfeed can become extremely annoying and even alienating. If we already know what you look like there’s really no need for a constant reminder. And these reminders are truly constant. The hash tag “#me” is actually the third most used hash tag on Instagram.
(screenshot taken by author 9/14/13)
With “#selfie” weighing in as the 34th most used hash tag. The Telegraph recently reported a poll revealing that now 30 percent of all photos taken by those aged 18-24 consist of selfies. As this is referring to Millennials, the first generation of people to grow up with the Internet, there is no doubt that this percentage will climb as newer generations begin to partake in these activities at a younger age. Even now it seems like everywhere I go I see 12 year olds taking selfies and begging for likes on Instagram. I don’t know why or how this habit emerged, but it’s a bit scary to think about how deep-rooted this activity is becoming with younger kids, especially when dealing with online privacy—which is altogether another issue.
So basically, a selfie once in a while is fine as long as there is a real purpose behind it that’s more than just a vain display seeking approval. Too many selfies though are just downright annoying. Any sort of excessive behavior can be troublesome, but excessive selfies really just get me. If you take one like this though,
(photo credit: theguardian.com)
I might change my mind.