Selfie is a word that I wish didn’t exist. Maybe I don’t love myself enough, but I just don’t see the appeal. If you want to take hundreds of pictures of yourself to add to your own personal collection of pictures of yourself, I guess that’s your business, but I could do without them all over my internet.
A couple of different articles have recently been making the rounds on my Facebook feed about selfie ‘addiction’ (which can be found here and here). The articles essentially say that people have become addicted to taking selfies while trying to continue sounding scientific despite using the word ‘selfie.’
Process addiction is a very real thing, which is the point these articles are trying to find, but never quite get there. It’s why we repetitively check whatever social media we use the most to quantify our self-worth through likes and comments. We aren’t addicted to selfies, we are addicted to the rush of self-esteem we get when dozens of people like our selfie. If the picture taking aspect of it was addicting, then we wouldn’t be uploading them by the millions.
Selfies are just the most popular (and ridiculous) way of demonstrating this point. It gives people something tangible to rail against (and is the same reason that people hate trophies instead of self-esteem). I’m endlessly annoyed by selfies, but I don’t think there is anything that horrible about a person taking a picture of themselves every now and then.
Vanity, like most other drugs, is best taken in moderation.
B. F. Skinner would point out that we have fallen victim to a self-perpetuating cycle of Operant Conditioning, in which we are constantly seeking reinforcement to feel good about ourselves. Instead of food we get recognition. Instead of being shocked we writhe in anonymity.
Twitter is built entirely around this concept. As far as I can tell from my limited use, very few people actually use Twitter to interact with one another – they just spew things into the void for the alleged enjoyment of others, hoping for retweets and followers.
I started a Twitter account because I was assured that I must have one to properly market my book. So far it’s done nothing, but give me another thing to compulsively check. I want to hate it, but can’t – if I stop now, I might miss out on some serious self-worth down the road. The result is me posting the most banal thoughts I have for no other reason than to roll the dice and see how much esteem I can win. It’s embarrassing, if I’m being honest about it.
One part of the articles that I do agree with is that selfies (and the subsequent display of them) are undeniable evidence of our increasing cultural narcissism. Spell check even insists that I am trying to type ‘selfish’ instead of ‘selfie.’ We have come to assume that everyone we have ever met (online or otherwise) has an interest in our daily goings on, our every passing thought, and daily pictures of us sitting in our car. Or pictures of our food…but that’s a topic for another day.
The underlying thought process behind this type of behavior is alarming. We were conditioned to believe that we are all the most special and precious thing that ever existed. Because of this, we never outgrew our own personal narrative, and conduct ourselves like a person who has a large and interested audience. It serves no real purpose – we end up chasing a dragon named esteem instead of opium.
Stop seeking out external means of validation, like numbers on the internet, it’s not healthy. And stop taking so many fucking selfies, it’s annoying.
But first, lemme take a selfie.