Thursday, August 27, 2015

Are you Selfish?

Are selfies a form of narcissism or self-documentation?
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?

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