The Danger of the Selfie

David Worley Fannie Mae selfieThe “selfie”, a self-portrait, typically taken with a camera phone.  In the past few years, you’ve seen it thousands of times on various social media outlets.  There’s even a song on the radio about it.  Not only are these things extremely annoying, but they’re also part of a bigger problem.  I recently came across an article where psychiatrists and mental health workers are linking them to mental health conditions related to narcissism.  One psychologist claims that two out of three of the patients who come to see him with Body Dysmorphic Disorder have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites.

A lot of younger people tend to take several selfies over and over again until they feel that they’ve found the “right one”, picking out various details about themselves until they find the “perfect picture”.  Even looking at how younger people choose their “profile pictures” on social media sites is a huge process.  While these acts seem harmless enough on their own, they build up over time until they create great forms of self-consciousness and a false sense of confidence.  The more “likes” these people get on social media sites, the happier they ultimately feel.  And the question arises: is basing your happiness on your profile picture or selfie performance sustainable?

One British teenager went to the extent of trying to commit suicide after he failed to take what he felt was the “perfect selfie”.  He became so obsessed with capturing the perfect shot that he would spend around 10 hours a day taking up to 200 selfies.  As things got more intense, the boy lost nearly 30 pounds, dropped out of school and never left the house for 6 months.  Even though this is a pretty extreme case, it isn’t too far off from what goes on through many of the minds of people as they take pictures of themselves for social media.  Seeing other peoples’ pictures, and the attention that they get, we end up comparing ourselves to others.  In the digital age, narcissism is becoming a big problem.  When people are only showing their highlights online, it’s easy to think that our own lives aren’t as cool.  But we need to realize that they probably have the exact same insecurities, and we have no need to worry about it.