dignity insecurity

The "Selfie" and the Self

2:29:00 PMKaitlin Fellrath

We live in a culture obsessed with the "selfie."

According to Wikipedia, the selfie is defined as: "a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held  digital camera or camera phone ... they are usually flattering and made to appear casual."  

The typical selfie, however, is anything but casual. The selfie is usually shot from a high angle, which exaggerates the size of the eyes and makes the chin appear more slender and pointed. #casual. When we take a selfie, we often think we are capturing a picture of ourselves, but often it is only the carefully posed and digitally enhanced version.

There is nothing wrong with a selfie in itself. Even the Pope is in on the trend!

But the cultural obsession with the selfie, as evidenced by the popularity of apps like Snapchat, has also engendered some negative effects. A new study shows that the
demand for plastic surgery has risen with the popularity of social media. The selfie preys upon our own insecurities and can lead to an unhealthy obsession with physical perfection that culminates in Botox and nose jobs.

Included with this desire for physical perfection is the desire to impress. We want others (most often those we don't know) to be impressed with our achievements and our travels to distant lands. Which brings us to this disaster:

Most people would acknowledge that taking a selfie at Auschwitz is distasteful and offensive. I also hope that most people would view plastic surgery for the sake of the selfie as disordered.

Why do people take selfies?  People often take selfies because they are afraid of being lonely.  Because they need to feel connected with and approved of and acknowledged.  Because they want to feel included and connected and loved.  People long for approval - thus selfies that document every moment of every day.  Please approve of my bathroom mirror.  Please approve of the places that I go.   Please approve of my achievements.  

Selfie are not necessarily bad.  They can actually be fun. But we must not let ourselves slip into any habit that leads to negative consequences for our selfhood. So think twice the next time you snap a selfie, whether you are at the beach or standing at the Eiffel Tower.

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