I kept thinking lately about all those annoying people on my Facebook timeline that keep posting selfie after selfie. And I wondered, are selfies- besides annoying- bad for us? And so, my “research” began:
The Story of Danny Bowman:
I recently read about a young model who tried to kill himself because he couldn’t take the perfect selfie. This young man is called Danny Bowman. He had become, thanks to his obsessive-compulsive and body dysmorphic disorder obsessed with taking selfies. He is also supposedly highly sensitive to the approval of his peers. His selfie addiction began at age 15 and it gradually became worse over the years. He is now taking around 80 pictures a day.
Nowadays, there is a thing called ‘selfie addiction’. This is a new form of pathology that is oftentimes related to low self-esteem and a history of bullying. Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are starting to believe that the compulsion to take selfies is a valid mental health problem.
According to psychiatrists, the current treatment involves systematic desensitization. It implies having a patient learn in a progressive manner, to increase the period of time between taking pictures until they no longer fit the criteria for selfie compulsion. Also, they must go in therapy to find the root of the underlying issues and proceed to fix it.
A correlation between selfies and body dysmorphic disorder:
Recent studies show that ever since social media and camera phones came to be on the market, the number of body dysmorphic disorder cases has exploded. For this type of sufferers, cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is used to help them identify the underlying factors behind their compulsion, and find ways to tame it back into normality.
The most ‘at risk’ demographic group for this type of pathology is the youngsters. Almost all teenagers have posted at least once a selfie online. For teenagers, selfies can have a huge impact. They affect mood and create false self-esteem because getting hundreds of likes for a selfie is not a normal or a healthy way of building self-esteem.
But selfie-induced self-esteem is easy and accessible in contrast to authentic exchanges in real life with real people. And it is also addictive, and that’s where the challenge is: self-control.
According to psychologists, selfies often make people see themselves in a better image as they allow them to capture certain gratifying angles of their face and add artistic filters to further improve the image. Also, they encourage a certain type of dependence called attention-seeking social dependence that affects negatively narcissism.
What is more, according to more research, people who post lots of selfies on social media websites might be at risk for alienating their peers and significant others. Moreover, it presumably leads to poor supportive bonds.
Further psychological research was done on the liking behavior on social media giants. The results showed that folks who post many selfies tend to have shallower relationships in contrast to those who post few or none. In general, only close friends and family tolerate well a person who is obsessed with posting selfies. The rest only seem to be irritated. Still, even with all this evidence against selfie addiction, there are no signs of progress in general.
Now, if all that research was not enough to convince you, maybe some extra information on cybernetic etiquette will do the trick. Although the selfie, as a worldwide phenomenon, is becoming more and more acceptable from a social standpoint, posting more than three selfies a day is a matter of poor taste and bad manners. This golden rule can be, of course, extended over all other media giants such as Instagram and so on.