Thanks to social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, selfies often dominate social media. And with smartphones now equipped with cameras on both the front and back, taking a selfie (or five) is a doddle.
According to a recent survey, there are over 80 million photos with the hashtag #me just on Instagram alone. People post them in the hope of a barrage of compliments and ‘likes’. But perhaps more importantly, this popular trend of taking selfies allows people to have complete control of their image online.
It cannot be disputed; selfie lovers are seen by many as self-centred and narcissistic. And it seems they are the perfect example of our increasing narcissistic culture. But oddly, selfies are now the norm; they have been accepted as part of our everyday lives.
Going onto a social networking site now and seeing selfies of people posing, doing the duck face or simply trying too hard are a standard part of our regular trips to the cyber world.
We are now, as a society, longing for acceptance. We seek approval from others in the form of being ‘liked’ and getting comments like ‘wow!’ and ‘stunning’. Not getting as many likes and comments as peers can be embarrassing for the people who have uploaded their carefully crafted pictures of themselves online.
But in reality, is it really just sheer vanity and self-absorbance as to why people are uploading countless selfies? Or is it really an action of someone with low self-worth desperate for attention? For approval?
With social networking sites allowing self-esteem to be so easily affected by just a click of a button or a tap on the keyboard, it is easy to see how it can quickly spiral out of control.
There is a danger that self-esteem and confidence can be tied up in the reactions from people online. The comments and ‘likes’ play a major part in the person’s self-assurance, but why is it so quickly forgotten that these images are simply pictures of what you look like, not based on who you are?
The need for boosting comments and ‘likes’ on people’s pictures of themselves could potentially become addictive, almost like a validation of popularity, perhaps being the reason for taking more and more selfies and posting them online.
What we seem to so commonly overlook is the reality that people show only their best side in social media – which of course includes selfies. It is the consciously amended version of themselves – what they want people to see and know about them, posts that have been carefully thought over before broadcasting so others will find them interesting. Of course, life isn’t all one big beautiful party; everybody goes through difficult times, but rarely do people post about that on their profiles.
With celebrity culture being a main fuel of this trend, with names such as Rihanna and Justin Bieber being regular selfie-takers, and the media’s focus on glamorous stars, it is unsurprising how the infatuation with ‘looking good’ and the desire to become a star has rubbed off on the everyday ‘regular people’ of this society.
Selfies are an ideal way to turn our everyday selves into something better, something prettier, something more like the images of ‘perfection’ that we find ourselves having to aspire to.
So, by putting ourselves in front of huge audiences online by means of posting selfies, it allows us to have a bit of that stardom for ourselves, safe in the knowledge that we have total control over what image we post, what we look like and most importantly what we want other people to see.