The selfie phenomenon flourishes

By in Opinions

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 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.

  • Storm Lee Sanders

    Opinions are like Selfies – everybody has one. And that’s a wonderful thing in society when freedom of expression is being restricted, so relax.

  • Kayly Beerdrin King

    Selfies are great. We’re re-examining what beauty means on our own terms. Instead of only concentrating on glamour shots or photoshopped pictures of unattainable forms of perfection, people are concentrating on what they love about themselves. They’re highlighting their own definition of perfection.

    The selfie revolution shall live on!

    Also: You think selfies are narcissistic? Take a look through history and see the portraits that people spent tedious hours posing for, while paying ludicrous prices for artists to paint their likeness so that they may be remembered. This sure as hell didn’t just begin.

    • April Nyland

      You basically said everything I was about to post haha. Well said!

    • anon

      I agree with what you’re saying, but I don’t think that selfies itself are what this article is targeting; if everyone starts feeling pressure to post a picture of themselves on the world wide web just to feel more accepted, what does that say about our society? Yeah you can call it “art,” but do you honestly think that most 14 year old girls post selfies of themselves at some party on the internet for “art”? And do you think that most are “re-examining their beauty?” How am I possibly re-examining my beauty by posting a picture of myself for the entire world to see? Yeah, I’m re-examining it alright; through the eyes of others. That has no connection with my self-esteem and ego, right?

      Come on.

      And does perfection only exist on the outside of a person? Yeah, “people are concentrating on what they love”l how about people are concentrating about how they look and about what other people will think about them based on that? What value is being given to your personality and intellectual worth? Zero.

      We’ve delved so deep into our western materialism we feel the need to pathetically justify it. People have become so desperate to hear “don’t worry, you look beautiful,” precisely because of stupid social traditions like this.

    • Kayly Beerdrin King

      I post selfies all the time, because I feel like I look awesome and I want to share that. I want people to know that I am roaring to go, I don’t give a damn about their beauty standards. Call me fat, call me ugly, tell me I’m a butterface. Because I know that I am hot. I am beautiful. And it’s not up to other people to determine that.

      If you’re letting other people drag you down on the internet, you should really change your facebook privacy settings.

      My self esteem kicks ass because when I know I look good, I can share that with people who reaffirm a knowledge I already have. And if I’m feeling bad about myself? A compliment never hurt somebody.

      People who able to see my pictures have already given value to my personality and intellectuality. We’re already friends. I have already deemed them worthy of enjoying my presence. And on a separate sharing site, like tumblr? I share because I’m proud of who I am, and how I look.

      How about instead of being such a negative Nelly and calling this social tradition stupid, you go double check the last time you accepted a compliment. How did it make you feel? Good? Then how about the last time you gave out a compliment? It’s a social construct worth having because it allows for the spreading of good feelings and redefining our own beauty, and accepting ourselves on our own terms.

    • anon2

      Interesting.. I would also like to add that people’s selfies these days are perfection..(instagram helps) they look gorgeous.. or they wouldn’t post it.. and why do they post their best pics all the time.. ofcourse so people can comment and tell them how beautiful and gorgeous they look.. and they say thanks everyone..but really- “keep it coming until i post my next one..” haha. I remember the time when posting selfies was something to be embarrassed about..and people who posted those got a bad rep.. its also wierd taking a picture of urself.. i try not to forget that, bc it feels self obsessive.

    • Kayly Beerdrin King

      I’m not the sort of person who would type, “keep it coming until I post my next one,” nor is anyone on my friends list so I cannot offer an opinion on people like that. That seems disturbing.

      edit: most of my personal selfies are not perfection. Recently, I took a picture of myself giving the craziest grumpy face I could because I wanted pizza. I was going through some things mentally, and pizza seemed like the best fixer up’er. A photo of me looking pissed also seemed the most appropriate representation of how I was feeling.

  • justno

    i need to look at myself all the time and so do you