The internet is flooded with selfies. Although some selfies are taken on certain occasion (work, marriage, victory, achievement etc), most selfies do not even need any occasions. Special filters on apps like Instagram and Snapchat make sure that we use these filters to post good looking pictures of ourselves.
So why do we take selfies?
One of the biggest explanations is control.
- We can control the quality of the picture when taking a selfie. This may not be the case when someone else takes our picture.
- We can decide from among many filters which one we want.
- We can choose the angle and the lighting.
- We can also take multiple copies and then choose the best one. All this is not very likely when other people take our pictures.
So selfies help us control how we look, at least to others.
So why do we want to control how we look?
The explanation lies with the ‘looking glass self’ explanation. This hypothesis contends that in a digital, connected world, the notion of deriving our value from the eyes of others has become very exaggerated. People are frequently posting about what they do every minute. In order to compete with this, even we want to post photos of how our life is ‘happening’ too. We want to show photos in which we look good and happy.
This is because our self-esteem now-a-days is much more affected by what others think than it ever was before. Not getting enough likes can actually make people lose confidence! Therefore, since people are deriving their esteem and confidence from what others think about them, they want look their best, get maximum people’s liking and attention and feel good about themselves.
So are we happy now that we are taking so many selfies?
The research is quite divided. Some studies with women participants have reported that getting likes and positive comments on their pictures has actually helped women feel good about themselves, and their looks and has made them happier.
Some other studies state that because people seem to rely so heavily on being liked on social media, their self-esteem suffers really badly on getting negative feedback. Therefore, putting yourself out there so much to be judged and liked (or disliked) may actually be damaging for your self-esteem and confidence levels.
Another explanation for the selfies fad is that people who take too many selfies maybe narcissists, or people who feel abnormal levels of love for themselves. By taking so many selfies, they appease the desire for self-appreciation. However, research also claims that narcissists actually have a grave level of self-doubt, which is why they seek so much appreciation in the first place.
Regardless of the explanation, one question is the need of the hour: Are we controlling our pictures, or are our pictures controlling us?
Can you believe that the first selfie was taken in the year 1939 by Robert Cornelius? Here are some facts about selfie: