I used to love taking pictures of myself when I thought I looked particularly good, or when I would go to an event, that was a good excuse to take a selfie. Shoot, any day I had makeup on was a good day to take a selfie! When I was on Facebook (I made the decision about four months ago to stay off of Facebook permanently) I would get hundreds of ‘likes’ on my pictures. With the likes came dozens and sometimes even 100 plus comments complimenting my appearance. It felt good to have people always telling me how “beautiful” I was on a regular basis. It fed my ego.
But as much as my ego was fed, it was as if my perceived imperfections were magnified in my own mind. I would think, “Little do they know, I have crooked teeth” or “I wonder if they can tell I have gained weight?” I used to only smile with my mouth closed when taking selfies because of how self-conscious I was about my teeth. As a mother who has carried and birthed seven children, I have always felt I was never skinny enough or fit enough. No matter how pretty I felt or how many compliments I received, I never felt good enough so I would try to take a better picture than my last one to help boost my self-esteem. It was almost like a drug—you constantly need it but it doesn’t fulfill you. You are constantly looking for that next big high—that one pic that gets you more likes than your highest.
One day I was listening to my good friend and brother, Lavoisier on Periscope and he said selfies are vain. There was a good discussion on the ‘scope about it and that remark has stuck in my head since he said it. I reflected on it a lot and started coming to the same conclusion that selfies really are vain after I examined my own motives for posting them. I began asking myself, “Why do I feel the need to take this picture? What purpose does it serve for me to post this picture online publicly? What am I hoping to get out of posting this picture?” These questions and my answers helped me realize taking and posting pictures of myself online was totally unnecessary. It served no other purpose other than to see what type of response I got from people. I mean, my family and friends already know what I look like!
Another reason I decided to stop taking selfies is because I came to a very welcome revelation. I don’t need other people’s validation! I don’t need other people’s opinions of me defining me or being the source of my self-esteem. I no longer wanted the pressure to look a certain way. Who cares what other people think of my appearance? The way I look does not affect someone else’s day. In fact, people aren’t thinking about me like that in their day-to-day lives so I need to get over myself.
I’m not knocking anyone who takes selfies. I understand everyone has their own reasons for taking and posting them but I would like to encourage you to ask yourself the same questions I did and answer them honestly. Your answers just might surprise you if you dig deep.
For further reading on the psychology behind selfies (if that kind of thing interests you), there are several academic studies that have been conducted that have found that posting selfies boosts people’s self-esteem. In contrast, another study found that people who lurk a lot on others’ social media have decreased self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Studies also show that people who post selfies on social networks are more likely to exhibit what some psychologists call “the dark triad” of personality traits, according to two recent studies of nearly 1,200 men and women who completed personality tests and answered questions on their online habits. This dark triad consists of narcissism (extreme self-centeredness), Machiavellianism (manipulation of others) and psychopathy (acting impulsively with no regard for other people’s feelings).
I don’t know about you, but I’m not too cool with the idea that anyone or any thing has any degree of control over how I feel about myself.
What are your thoughts on selfies? Do you think they are beneficial or harmful? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!