Narcissism continues to reign supreme worldwide, especially with the Oxford Dictionary’s announcement that “selfie” has been chosen as the word of the year for 2013. And yes, this phenomenon is narcissistic, even if the photos produced are artistic in one way or another.
The popular Instagram hashtag even beat out “twerk” for the title for word of the year, which was probably most upsetting to Miley Cyrus and her followers. “Schmeat” was also in the running for this prestigious title, which references meat that has been produced synthetically from biological tissue. Synthetic meat anyone? No thanks.
Before English wordsmiths start to lose their minds over “selfie” being acknowledged by the Oxford Dictionary, it should be clarified that the word has not officially been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, but does appear online via oxforddictionaries.com. Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief.
Though, if words like “twerk,” “sext,” and “selfie” continue to be used so frequently, it wouldn’t be shocking to find these words in print versions of the dictionary in the near future. Soon we’ll have young children writing in their journals that they took a selfie while twerking over the weekend.
Are we as a society so self-obsessed that we can’t help but take pictures of ourselves on a consistent basis, most often operating under the premise of receiving “likes” on Facebook or Instagram? The answer is obviously yes — but why do we do it?
We’re all guilty of taking selfies. If you haven’t done it, you might as well hop on the Narcissus Train to Naricissiumville, make a duck face and snap a picture to make yourself look as deep and brooding as the next person on social media.
And if you’re going to post a selfie, don’t forget to add a top-notch caption as well (that often has very little to do with the picture itself). “I hate studying,” “new hair,” “Happy Holidays,” or some googled quote seemed to caption many selfies produced during the month of December. I suspect January will bring captions dealing with New Years resolutions and subsequent self-loathing.
While Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, it seems that we’ve taken that same idea and altered it slightly. But rather than individuals taking selfies and feeling great about their appearances — gaining some self-confidence along the way — we’ve now become dependent on other people’s “likes” on our photos to make us feel as though we’re good looking.
This isn’t good. At least Narcissus was able to fall in love with himself of his own accord. We, as a society, are unable to do so and rely on each other for this push to love ourselves.
But seriously, to the people who take only selfies, why the hell do you do it? This is annoying. Stop it. Your followers will unfollow you if you keep this up.
Take a picture of an old chair and its shadow on a rainy day to make your feed more interesting for crying out loud! We all know at least one person on our Instagram feeds who does this, and we all don’t like it.
In the case of many Instagram accounts, follower-hungry individuals leave their accounts unlocked to welcome strangers to follow them so they can gain “likes” on all of their photos — selfies included. Good grief. The Internet is dangerous enough as it is; let’s not leave the door wide open for stranger danger.
It’s important to have love for yourself, but it’s worrisome that our society has moved towards receiving this self-love with the help of others. Maybe we should try to start loving what we see in the mirror as opposed to equating our self-worth with how many “likes” we earn from a selfie.
Perhaps I’m wrong about the severity of the selfie phenomenon, and perhaps I’m even more wrong to have called those of us who take selfies narcissistic. Either way, I’m quite sure the selfie in and of itself is something that we should be critical of.
With the help of the Oxford Dictionaries, we’ve certainly established the “what” part of the selfie phenomenon, but I think we should try to get to the bottom of the “why?” before the year is out. Where’s Dr. Freud when we need him?
The next time you’re cruising on Instagram or Facebook, check out a few individual profiles. Take note of how many selfies any one person has (this could also be yourself) and see what they’re up to.
Were the selfies taken while the person was on a trip alone, or were they simply lying around one afternoon taking selfies to pass the time? Without implying that the former is better than the latter, I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at: there’s a time and a place for a selfie, so take them judiciously.
And if you’re finding yourself taking selfies just for a little ego boost, just call someone that loves you instead. Or better yet, buy a pet for some unconditional love. That’s what I did.