Believe it or not, it wasn’t too long ago that when a couple decided to wed, they would send you an engagement photo with the big news in through the U.S. Postal System. (That’s that big box outside your home with the red flag). (“Hey! Bob is getting married. How nice.”) Imagine if you went to the mailbox and found another photo of the couple the next day. (“Hey! Bob is STILL getting married!”) And the next. (“Bob, come on. We know. You’re getting married.”) You get the idea. Pretty ridiculous right? However, in our “advanced” world, people, both men and women, will do just that in their Facebook feed. Why is that? Isn’t once enough?
Then, there are the people who post selfies every other day of just their face. Nothing special. There was nothing wrong with their two-day-old picture they just posted. Still, you can be sure to find a list of comments from friends telling them how good they look. Then there are the others who post “duck face” shots or selfies with their tongues hanging out (thank you Miley Cyrus). I really wonder if these people think, “I really want to post another selfie, but I don’t want people to think I’m conceited, so I’ll stick my tongue out as if it’s joke.”
Parents boasting of their child’s achievements online is nothing new and most of the time it is welcome news. But then there are those, you know the ones, that think EVERYTHING that their child does is worth posting about. (“Today Johnny got out of bed before 11:00 a.m.! How did I get so lucky? My little ‘baby’ is growing up LOL!”)
But are selfies a form of narcissism or self-documentation? Pamela B. Rutledge Phd. D. M.B.A. Wrote about this subject in 2013 for Psychology Today. In it, she states that selfies can “facilitate self and identity exploration” and can be more about context than the self. This can be in reference to the activities shown in the photo to even how the photo was taken. She stresses that not all selfies are about seeking external validation. “People often say that posters of selfies just want approval. We ALL seek approval. Humans are social animals, driven by the need for connection and social validation. We want to be valued, appreciated, and included in the groups that matter to us.” She also states that selfies “feel” more real than traditional portraits and can be normalizing. I guess if everybody is posting pictures of themselves, it has become pretty normal. But can it ever get to be too much?
“Danny Bowman, who was diagnosed with a body dysmorphic disorder, explained that he grew suicidal due to his addiction taking pictures of himself. Bowman shared how he would shoot 200 pictures a day to get just the right look. In fact, the 19-year-old Englishman said that he might spend as much as 10 hours a day just taking selfies,” states an article in Science World Report.
While he acknowledges that Danny’s case is very extreme, psychiatrist Dr. Davide Veale says, “This is a serious problem. It’s not a vanity issue. It’sa mental health one which has an extremely high suicide rate.”
In that same article, Dr. Ruteledge is also quoted saying, “put aside your anxieties over rampant narcissism and moral decline of the digital generation and exhale … like every trend, the behavior will recede when the excitement and newness wears off…” That was a couple of years ago.
Recent news suggests that Kim Kardashian has been “stressing out” about the sales of her new book, aptly titled, Selfish. That’s right, the reality TV star, famous for being famous, has blessed up with a coffee table book of some of her best selfies. Since May, the book has “only” sold 32,000 copies. That sounds like a lot to me, but I guess she and her publisher were thinking they would sell a lot more. In fact, she was recently a guest on the Live with Kelly and Michael TV show talking about the book and she gave away her secret to the perfect selfie. She takes about 100 or so photos and then picks the best one to post on Instagram. She says that the book is all about memories, but to judge the book by its cover, it looks a lot more than just a scrap book. But two questions come to mind: Why do so many people care and will we be seeing a lot more “selfish” books from other celebs in the coming months? One already did.
A parody of Karadashian’s book is out called Shellfish by Kim Carr-Dachshund. Publicity for the book says the Carr-Dachshund is “forever being mistaken for that celebrity Kim with a similar-sounding last name. Not only has Kim Carr-Dachshund created a line of popular jewelry and a collection of super-cool sunglasses, she’s even been called a modern-day Marilyn Monroe. In her travels, Kim has found tributes to her popularity worldwide, such as toys, home decor, and even a postage stamp! And despite her very busy schedule, Kim has also recently developed an interest in shellfish.”