We’ve all done it – you’re at dinner and suddenly you’re thinking ‘wow, I better take a picture for social media of my food!’ or ‘This place would make a great photo for social media so everyone will see what I did today!’
I went out on Valentine’s Day with a group of friends and while I didn’t take a single photo with them, I made sure to document the food I ordered because it was the first time I had ever been to Red Robin. As I took the photo, the thought occurred to me that this is considered normal in our culture.
If you go to places that are seen as interesting or even places that are considered common, you’ll see people ranging from pre-teens to middle-age adults taking what we call selfies. However, it’s not just selfies. We take pictures of our everyday lives – our kids, our families, our coffees in the morning as we drive to work, you name it and you can find it on Facebook or Instagram or any social media platform you prefer.
All across Instagram, you’ll find various food posts with filters thrown over them to try and make them look more visually interesting. All in all, unless you’re eating something that you can only get at a certain place or something super special, I don’t see the point in posting it.
The question stands then, does ‘Selfie Culture’ ruin us or damage us societally? We spend so much of our lives making sure we have that perfect post or that we can ‘share this with our friends’ that we don’t take time to actually enjoy whatever it is we’re doing.
When asked if he feels selfies damage our society, Professor Mark Humbert, Licensed Psychologist responded, “I don’t. I think it’s sort of like having a unique attire, it’s a way to distinguish from each other [sic]. I don’t think it hurts us.”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with snapping a quick photo every now and then of something truly exciting or sharing a post about our family and friends, but should we spend every day on the cell phone, taking pictures 24/7? I’m not calling anyone out, I’m just as guilty of it myself as anyone.
According to thriveglobal.com, selfies can help us capture those moments that we might call ‘FOMO’ aka Fear Of Missing Out. They can help document the trips we take and exciting things we do in life. They can also allow us to express ourselves adequately as we can create the things we want to share or the messages we want our images to say.
Selfies can be considered an art form. We choose the background or the setting we want for the photo, then frame it up, add a filter or two to adjust the color to the mood we want to convey and then post it. Sure, many posts you see are just some girl making a peace sign or a duck face, however, there are the ones that stand out. The posts where someone is posing artistically in front of a mirror, or a black and white photograph of loved ones in a beautiful setting.
According to Alicia Eler in her book The Selfie Generation, Selfies have become empowering for marginalized groups, such as POC and LGBTQ groups who use selfies to share their views and spread messages to others inside and outside their community. It gives those who might not otherwise have it a chance to have a voice.
Selfies can be negative too. An article on BBC.com talks about the inherently negative nature of selfies and how they can open us up to hate from anonymous people on the internet. It’s much easier to bully someone when you’re behind the safety of a screen and with selfies being posted online on the daily, there’s never a shortage of content for the internet trolls to feast on. In addition to trolls, you have the idea that selfies make us narcissistic in nature. Alicia Eler recalls. “Was there ever a time when adolescents weren’t obsessed with their own image?”
Humans are a bit narcissistic in nature, that much is true. We preen and decorate ourselves not just for the enjoyment of others but for the enjoyment of ourselves as well. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just who we are. That being said, social media does nothing to abate that problem. In fact, it adds to it, giving us an outlet for our narcissism.
In addition to the negative outlet it gives people, selfies can be used by people who want to harm us. Every time you post something online, it’s there forever, and even if you delete it, how many thousands of people saw it before you took it down? Selfies and social media posts just gave everyone around us a free pass to stalk us.
Regardless of who you are, selfies are probably a part of your daily life, and if they aren’t, you most likely know someone who does. There are pros and cons to them, just as there are with anything in life, but you can’t escape the fact that selfies are a part of our life.
To say the least, our generation and the ones after will be some of the most well documented in history. This could be a good thing, though. For once we will get to know the real story, not just the parts we find in the history books.