Selfie

Before I begin, let me ask you some questions: How often do you take selfies? Are you a social network connoisseur? Personally, I do not like to take selfies. And I am not a big fan of social network service. I would prefer to use instant messengers (e.g. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp) rather than social network platforms.

As of today, almost everyone – especially Generation Y and Z – knows what selfie is. According to English Oxford Living Dictionaries (2017), selfie, also known as Selfy, is defined as a photography that a person has taken of himself or herself with media devices (especially a digital camera, smartphone, or webcam), and is usually posted on various social network platforms (SNS), including Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. Other than the definition of selfie mentioned above, I define selfie as one that portrays one’s physical attractiveness.

As shown in Picture 1.0, according to the state of this picture, this photo seems to have gone through countless years. Since the invention of camera (for your information, the first camera was designed by Johann Zahn in 1685), the first selfie has known to be ‘Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait’ (The Public Domain Review 2017). According to the Public Domain Review (2017), this first selfie was taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839.

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Picture 1.0 – The First Selfie in the World (a copyright has expired – the public domain)

Of course, many selfie connoisseurs are interested in taking pictures of themselves. Over the last few years, selfie has become a global phenomenon, especially in the digital context. As this has become one of the today’s hottest trends, we can easily see other’s selfies on many social network platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and dating applications (e.g. Tinder). But one thing I am concerned about is an act of distorting reality. Undoubtedly, everyone wants to be seen as attractive (cute, beautiful, or handsome). For instance, using Photoshop tools or Snapchat filters. However, can one argue that a person portrayed in a selfie is him or her? Perhaps when one’s reality is portrayed differently in a photography, that one in the selfie may not be the same one.

I believe selfie culture is somewhat related to digital narcissism. According to Back et al. (2010), a narcissist prefers to be exhibitionistic, and is highly concerned with his or her physical appearance. Keen (2012) defines digital narcissism as a self-promotional obsession driven by one’s needs to generate his or her own fame to the digital context. Like I said, an act of posting selfies on SNSs is related to narcissism – Sorokowski et al. (2015) argue that such selfie posting behaviour is related to narcissism, especially amongst men. For instance, uploading a handsome looking photo as one’s Facebook- or Instagram profile picture.

Another interesting fact is that selfies could cause mental health problems. Donnelly (2016) states that taking selfies may trigger mental illness, such as anxiety and depression, as selfie culture puts massive pressures on girls (especially young women), according to a research on mental illness. I assume that this problem is caused by superficialism. Perhaps this is a result of peer pressure (or social pressure) amongst women.

As written above, I personally agree with those arguments: people taking selfies seemed to be narcissistic. Of course, loving oneself is not a bad thing. However, I really cannot understand those who exaggerates his or her portrayal identity by using image editing utilities, such as Adobe Photoshop. This so-called behaviour is, perhaps, ‘selfie addiction’. People do better consider #Shameless_Selfie.

References

Back, MD, Stopfer, JM, Vazire, S, Gaddis, S, Schmukle, SC, Egloff, B & Gosling, SD 2010, ‘Facebook Profiles Reflect Actual Personality, Not Self-Idealization’, Psychological Science, no. 3, p. 372.

Donnelly, L 2016, ‘Young women ‘highest mental health risk’ as ‘selfie’ culture heaps pressure’, The Telegraph, 29 September, viewed 17 March, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/29/one-in-four-young-women-suffering-from-mental-health-problems-as/>.

Keen, A 2012, Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us, St. Martin’s Press, NY.

Robert Cornelius’ Self-Portrait: The First Ever “Selfie” 2017, The Public Domain Review, viewed 16 March 2017, <https://publicdomainreview.org/collections/robert-cornelius-self-portrait-the-first-ever-selfie-1839/>.

‘Selfie’ 2017, in English Oxford Living Dictionaries, Oxford University Press, viewed 16 March 2017, <https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/selfie>.

Sorokowski, P, Sorokowska, A, Oleszkiewicz, A, Frackowiak, T, Huk, A & Pisanski, K 2015, ‘Selfie posting behaviors are associated with narcissism among men’, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 85, pp. 123-127.

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