Today I read an interesting article: Why Selfies Matter about the deeper meaning behind selfies. While I consider myself somewhat of an amateur psychologist (I enjoy analyzing and over-thinking), I think this article over-analyzed a bit too much. I agree that selfies make an important statement about our generation, but not for all the reasons that the article said.
For example, it said “Developmentally, selfies make sense for children and teens. And for the most part, they are simply reflections of their self-exploration and nothing more.”
This is true to some extent, but I don’t think the psychology behind teens and the art of selfies is that complex or profound. Selfies are simply overrated, and a source from the article thinks so too. “Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, believes that parents and experts are over-analyzing the selfie.”
Perhaps selfies do show the self-exploration and experiences of teenagers, but there are so many more factors to be considered — ones that are much more obvious and logical.
1. In most cases, selfies are simply a result of self-absorption as the article says. “Some social scientists lump the selfie trend…into the larger narcissism that they say is more prevalent among today’s preteens and adolescents, arguing that the self-portraits are an extension of their self-absorption.” You have to like your face more than a little to be taking so many pictures of it, right?
2. It is a trend, after all. Everybody’s doing it, so of course peer pressure does play a major role. If my friend can get 100 likes and comments on a picture, why can’t I? Trends on Twitter and Instagram like “#SelfieSuday” promote selfies and make users feel compelled to do their social duty and grace the world with a self portrait. Along with the trendiness, there’s always an unspoken, but hostile competition going on in the world of selfies. Exhibit A: this text I received from a friend…
3. Obsession with popularity. People love to be flattered. And posting selfies online is an open invitation for compliments, especially in an appearance-driven society. Everyone wants to look pretty. Dr. Andrea Letamendi said in the article that “Self captured images allow young adults and teens to express their mood states…” While selfies can portray moods, I don’t think that logic always holds true. How many sad-faced selfies have you seen, if any?
4. Boredom What do you do when you’re bored out of your mind with a camera on your phone? Nowadays the obvious choice is to take selfies which explains the multitudes of them.
Teens don’t need selfies for “self-development” and “self-exploration” — there are more than enough other creative outlets for that purpose. Why else do we go to school? Play sports? Write blogs? Those are the real ways to self-develop and find ourselves.
Selfies shouldn’t be credited with such a big, psychological role in teenagers lives –they’re just too random! (Even the irrelevant song lyrics and quotes posted with them don’t make them any more heartfelt). They are a result of self-absorption, a popularity/appearance driven society, and most of the time they don’t require amazing photography skills — for those reasons, frankly, I find them annoying. Not that I don’t take selfies myself — I am guilty of falling into the categories above just as much as anyone else… I just don’t feel the need to constantly share pictures of myself with the world.
Therefore, to show that I appreciate the “art” and appease my fellow selfie-lover friends, I have decided to show my dislike for selfies by posting my first and last one online.
How often do you post selfies online? And what messages are you trying to send to the world?