Pick up your phone, open up the camera roll and scroll for the selfie. Whether they are expertly constructed, spur of the moment, awaiting circulation or the ‘cast offs’ from a previous upload…a selfie free camera roll is a rare thing to find!
It’s claimed that over 80% of adults have taken one, with over a million selfies published on a daily basis and these statistics are growing.
Followed closely behind the selfies are the echoes of narcissism, vanity, validation and loss of morals as our society supposedly buckles under the pressure of the perfectly constructed image. I’ve read the headlines, it’s hard not to, from one lady who spent $15,000 on facial surgery to achieve the perfect selfie, to a teenage boy who dropped out of school to keep up his 200 selfie’s a day habit.
I unashamedly posted selfies here and there for months. Everyone else was doing it, so I thought ‘why shouldn’t I?’ Somehow the embarrassment of an awkward camera angle, visible arm and self-documentation of vanity had slipped through the net and acceptance was on the rise.
The odd comment here or there made me feel good about myself whether they were from a friend, a loved one or a complete stranger, and I saw no issue with a little self-esteem boost now and again. Over the past week I spoke with a number of people about their thoughts on the use of the selfie and the responses, more often than not, were very similar.
1. Yes it is a little embarrassing
2. Yes it does make me feel good
3. Yes I started doing it because others did
4. Yes I’ve never really given the concept much thought
5. Yes I think I manage my ‘selfie-control’ appropriately
We are obsessed with creating and trawling through these self-constructed images, yet rarely do we assign much thought to the message behind the filter. ‘Why has she/he posted that image?’ ‘Who is their image for?’ and perhaps more importantly, ‘Why have I taken this image?’ ‘Who am I posting this image for?’
It’s hard to argue against the idea that photos of this nature are either motivated by self-promotion to others, or self-promotion in order to boost self-esteem. Either way, the motivation to create and the end product of a compliment are all in the hands of another (often those are the hands of a stranger). For me that is the hardest part to stomach, how much of this modern day craze is performed for others.
It’s not a new concept, the idea of ‘The Looking Glass Self’ has been around for over a century. The theory dictates that the ‘self’ grows out of society’s interpersonal reactions and the perceptions of others. To break it down even further, it’s not down to what I think, it’s not even about what you think…it’s all about what I think you think.
When you consider this concept the photo isn’t important, neither is how great you look, it’s not about how many you have posted and it’s not about the hashtags you placed next to them. The unsettling part is in the arrival at a point where one requires a self-constructed photo to be taken and circulated because of the impact that it will have on others and in turn, me.
The internet has long stoked the fire of self-indulgence and this promotion of the self continues to evolve and expand in line with technological advancement. We have become our own marketing and production teams, curating, constructing, directing and producing the idealised image/persona for the world to see. In an age where we are all documented online to certain extent, is it a valid point to say are we not entitled to control that? The selfie being the ultimate control.
I do believe that online profile management is important and I care about my online reputation as much as the next person. I’m likely to use the best photo I can for each platform and yes I am convinced that I know my angles better than anyone! I just think that the selfie concept has gone far beyond this. I don’t need to post a picture to know that today I looked good, or hashtag the word #happy to know that I felt happy. More importantly I don’t need anyone else to know that today I looked good, or that today I felt happy.
The selfie might be created by the ‘self’but it’s uploaded and circulated for others. It is a staging mechanism that turns all of the focus onto how we appear not how we are.
I wouldn’t walk out of my door in a new dress and shout the words #Slim, #Beautiful, #Me, #NoFilter at a random passer-by to make sure he was aware how great I looked…so why would I do the same on a social media platform? Remove the technological interface and it’s exactly the same thing.
I hold my hands up, I’ve done it tenfold on social media and clutched at humility by stating that I never really gave it a deeper thought. Now I have, and honestly it doesn’t taste quite so great! Since when did it become such an unrealistic and idealised notion that the only ‘likes’ that we every really require are our own?
Put down your phone, get ready, feel wonderful and for today let your own approval be enough.
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