Selfies promote narcissism, detract from experiences


A 19-year-old boy, Danny Bowman, from England, was recently diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. At the age of 17, he quit school because of bullying problems and lack of self-esteem, as he puts it. He tried committing suicide until his mom rushed to a hospital. Eventually, he went to a psychiatrist for counsel and to find a resolution to his problems. The cause of his turmoil? The selfie. According to a Huffington Post article, “'Selfie Addiction' Is No Laughing Matter, Psychiatrists Say,” Bowman would take nearly 500 selfies per day, until he could get the perfect picture where he would look like a model.

Selfies are everywhere these days. We breathe, we take a selfie. We eat, we take a selfie. We sleep, we have to a take a selfie. We walk along the hot sand, at a beach, with the scorching sun on our backs and the water rushing to our feet. Instead of enjoying and cherishing the moment in our hearts, the idea is, “first, let me a take a selfie.”

It’s not just the students that are hooked to the selfie imagery. The usage of this self-addicted photography is a hobby for nearly all age groups. It seems nearly harmless. I mean, what can seriously happen to someone by clicking a picture of themselves multiple times a day and sending it to their friends. Yet after hearing about the Bowman case, it makes us really wonder, how can something so harmless become the cause of such a harmful addiction?

According to the Huffington Post article, in January, an Ohio State recent study proved that those who post more picture of themselves online score higher on psychological narcissism and psychopathy tests. Eight-hundred men, ages 18 to 40, were asked how often they post pictures of themselves online and how they edited their photos afterwards. They were later given a questionnaire to fill out determining and measuring social behaviorisms.

The selfie is not something we need to experiment and study with our lab coats and scientific methods. We can experience the usage and the depth behind the clicking of selfies. We can see the narcissism creep in behind the need for acceptance in society when we see selfies being taken. Narcissism means an inflated imagery of oneself. When we take organized, zoomed-in pictures of ourselves with editing and social media involved, we clearly see the “inflation” in this sort of imagery.

Elliot Erwitt, an advertiser and photographer said, “Photography is an art that has much to do with how you observe things.” Photos bring both intimacy and epic-ness all in one package. There were times we used to take pictures to cherish moments ourselves. We would look back on them, in our color-coded albums, from time to time so we can cherish memories forever. And for whom? For ourselves and our loved ones. But now, we’ve started taking pictures of ourselves, for others. The selfies have forced us to become self-conscious of how we look and how we can present ourselves in front of others, so we can be accepted. “With the growing use of social networks, everyone is more concerned with their appearance," Jesse Fox, the study’s leader author, said in the statement. "That means self-objectification may become a bigger problem for men, as well as for women.” How do I look? How can I present myself in front of others through just one picture? Such questions run through the mind of the selfie-doers.

Rather than enjoying the moment at a music concert — the spotlight on the band, the crowd on their feet, the instruments encompassing the stage and the music rushing to our hearts — one can look up and see the clicking of pictures and flashing lights of selfies by people. Instead of closing our eyes and enjoying the moment for ourselves, it is clear that we’ve become so self-conscious that we choose to pull our phones and take selfies and videos to show our friends later. Of course it’s fun. Of course it’s cool to take pictures with your friends and family in such a way. Of course it could be artistic. Of course, there are the countless positive effects the social media platform has given to society. But like every other problem in this world, it’s necessary for us to take a step back and look at our actions and mindsets through a bird’s eye view. Like every other thing in this world, the small things, even the click of a photo, can prove so much about our character and motives behind everything. And the selfie, like every other thing in this world, is not a moral issue that lies in the phone or the camera, but in the mind and the self-esteem of the beholder.

Keshav Pandya is a School of Arts and Science sophomore majoring in journalism and media studies and business. 


Keshav Pandya

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