Studying the Selfie Generation
Posted on by Sean Williamson
There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in a world governed by technology, and one where social media is an equally forceful reality. Nowhere do these two powers come together more dramatically than in the smartphone, the device that has altered the way we go about many aspects of our daily lives.
Smartphone apps have changed the way we do everything, from staying fit to keeping up with work and playing our favourite casino games. In light of this, it’s hardly surprising that they’ve changed the way we use social media to interact with the world.
Selfies, officially defined as images taken of oneself and then posted on social media, seem to dominate the pictures that are seen on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. They’ve become such an influencing factor and reflection of current reality that there are more and more academics and professionals studying them.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The long-term effects of posting selfies and of looking at other people’s selfies are yet to be fully understood, and as things stand right now, there are reports of both positive and negative consequences. It seems that looking at the selfies of others mostly promotes feelings of jealousy, depression and low life satisfaction as people compare themselves with what they see and find their own circumstances lacking.
Posting selfies, on the other hand, can be a good or a bad experience. Many people report getting positive comments and affirmations on their posts, which can perk them up or keep them motivated. The Instagram #HealthySelfie platform, which people use when posting pictures of themselves getting fit, is a good example of this, and many people simply post pictures of their fitness journey to their Facebook page.
The encouragement that people get to pursue real-life goals is, of course, very beneficial, but what happens if you don’t? There is always the chance that you’ll post your selfie and get no comments, or get negative feedback. Many young people are also becoming increasingly disillusioned with selfies, saying they make them feel very insecure and are the area of very shallow individuals.
The Darker Side of Selfies
The idea that people with narcissistic, psychopathic or Machiavellian tendencies may excessively use selfies has also been explored in several papers and studies. While individuals may always have had these traits, the selfie culture seems to really unmask them. People who are looking for excessive praise, who value their outward presentation above all or who want to evoke certain behaviours or reactions are more easily exposed by the cold light of the temptation of the selfie and its instant gratification.
The other danger to remember about selfies and what they can expose, is that they make you and your children much more vulnerable to the predators that are unfortunately lurking everywhere – including and especially on the Internet. Parents should think very carefully about posting any images of their children online – no matter how adorable the grin in the selfie might be!
Make the Choice for Your (selfie)
At the end of the day, social media and selfies are here to stay. The Merriam Webster Dictionary even included the word in its 2014 edition! The best thing to do is decide what works for you and how you want to engage with selfies, both from a posting and from a viewing perspective.
If you get good feelings from positive comments and can ignore negative remarks, you might want to continue posting. And of course, being able to resist comparing yourself to the selfies of others is highly recommended.