Ah, the selfie. A global phenomenon that almost everyone is familiar with, especially after Ellen’s famous Oscar selfie that set a twitter record. If you’ve had enough willpower to stay away from all channels of media for the past two years and aren’t familiar with the term, “selfie” is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as, “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” (Yes, “selfie” was added to Oxford Dictionaries in 2013.)
Some people live off of selfies; the joy of taking a picture on their smartphone at the perfect angle, selecting the most flattering filter (thanks, Instagram!), then posting the photo and receiving praise for their beauty and keen photography skills becomes an addiction. But others are a bit cynical about the trend. There are various hashtags that mock selfies, including #antiselfie, which “fights online narcissism” and discourages self-interest on the Internet. We love this.
Individual’s vanity and fixation with taking photos of themselves has become so outrageous that there are sites dedicated to the most outlandish selfies, such as “Selfies at Funerals” and “CopSelfies,” proving that when it comes to the trend, there are no boundaries. The selfie obsession has even sparked The Chainsmokers to create the worst song in history, “#Selfie” (listen at your own risk).
As if taking a selfie at a funeral isn’t bad enough, you know a trend is serious when it becomes damaging to followers, and whether you like to selfie or not, it has truly plagued the world. As ridiculous as it may sound, more and more news stories are emerging about the psychological damages selfies are causing. A selfie obsessed teen in Britain made headlines this week because he attempted suicide after he couldn’t take the perfect picture of himself. Every day the 19-year-old would devote 10 hours to taking around 200 selfies and even dropped of school to focus on his obsession, which led him to become depressed and try to take his own life. Known as Britain’s first “selfie addict,” the teen has since recovered and is dedicated to helping other people break their unhealthy relationships with social media.
Not only is it causing depression, but plastic surgeons are reporting that they’re also seeing more cases of patients wanting minor facial surgical procedures in order to look better in online photos. Dr. Edward Farrior, President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, recently wrote a news release about the topic and reported that one in three plastic surgeons have seen an increase in requests for this reason. “Social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and the iPhone app Selfie.im, which are solely image based, force patients to hold a microscope up to their own image and often look at it with more self-critical eye than ever before,” said Farrior.
Pretty scary that a little social media trend is causing all of this, right?
Luckily, the power of selfies is also being used for good. In the U.K., the “No Makeup Selfie” was created for breast cancer awareness. The campaign and hashtag encourage women to post selfies sans-makeup and promote donating to Cancer Research UK. In only six days, the makeup-less selfies raised about $11 million, further proving the influence selfies have on people. Let’s just hope this trend will spread to America.
There’s no doubt that the selfie trend is here to stay. So tell us, what’s your opinion of selfies?
P.S. In case you were curious, Oxford’s use of “selfie” in a sentence was, “occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself everyday isn’t necessary.” Hah!
Written by: Laura