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  • Writer's pictureAlanna Grayce

Episode 5: Selfie Culture

This is a super controversial topic, y'all. Like I got bullied in a Facebook group for asking a question about people's perception of selfies, so I'll be honest listen/read at your own risk. But I want you to know I feel very strongly about selfies- mostly, I love em. Love taking them. Love seeing them. I think they can be dangerous, though. So know that I am not bashing selfies or the people who take them (because that would be highly hypocritical), I am just here to talk about the more problematic side of them as well.


Why are there all of these negative perceptions of selfie culture?

I started googling selfie culture, right? Looking for information on it- maybe psychology, I don’t know. But what i found was a lot of talk about narcissism. I know some people personally who see selfies as, more than anything, self-centered and attention seeking. And I’d imagine that it’s likely because a lot of the articles that I found talk about selfie culture and narcissism in the same breath. And, even worse, they call it “the truth about selfies” and things like that. It creates this mindset of “this is the truth- selfies, photos that are of your body (whether it be you in a bikini or you showing off your ski outfit)” are inherently about showing off. Why… like why does it have to be that way?


Yeah, I think sometimes people do post things to show off. For sure. Hell sometimes I like to show off my outfit so I post the whole body pic ya know? But then… this leads to the question, why is showing off inherently bad? Obviously sometimes it can be a problem- like when you’re showing off to make yourself look better than others- ya know, that kind of attitude. "Showing off" to put others down isn't cool, but if I have a cute outfit on and wanna show it off then what’s the issue!!! I think it all comes down to intention.


Anyway, like I said, I’ve been googling. And I found quite a few articles about the pyschology of it, and basically all of them are like two paragraphs long and they culminate in “these ladies in central park were taking selfies and they had this to say about how Instagram is bad for their mental health.” okay. Great. So helpful. Thanks for the science.


Yeah, obviously social media is bad for your mental health when you’re using it to portray a falsified, curated reality. Or when you’re basing your worth on unreasonable standards set by people on social media. Social media can be super destructive when you forget that it is what people choose to share, and typically that is the best of the best ya know? Not many people share the nitty gritty realness, their mental health problems or their family problems. That's vulnerable- too vulnerable, for a lot of people But people are starting to do that more, I will say, and I think its incredible. I shared about my anxiety and depression on social and I got SUCH an incredible, kind, supportive response. I follow some influencers whose platform is to talk about anxiety, post-partum depression, general depression, eating disorders... and they are incredible, and inspiring, and they are taking some really tough (sometimes horrible) experiences and turning them into something good for themselves and for others.


For that reason, social media is a great thing when its used well and realistically. But the problem comes when you start to focus on social media as being the source of your self worth.


SO, when we rely on social media for validation and self worth, that's where the selfie becomes a negative thing I think. But remember: they’re not inherently a bad thing at all.


I did a little poll as I prepared for this episode. I asked my friends, followers and some members of a Facebook group I’m in what their perception of selfies are. I know what i think, but I wanted to know what other people thought. I wanted to make sure this was a relatable topic, but also something with some crowd sourced scientific basis ya know?


One of my friends, Katie, said that if she feels cute she’s gonna take a selfie, but its especially valuable to her if she’s been feeling down because its empowering. It lets YOU see your own beauty and self worth, which can be difficult sometimes. How is it empowering, you might ask? You’re able to take control of your perception of yourself- you’re saying I don’t need other people to tell me I’m beautiful- I KNOW I AM , and I’m here to celebrate it.


My friend Shaddys said that they are good for the soul when you take them with self love in mind, but they become negative when you take them to post for others approval. Which I think just sums it all up really well- when you take them because you love yourself and are proud of yourself, then what's the problem?


Another friend, Ashley, said she used to be embarrassed of them but now they are a form of empowerment for her AND its a way for her to hopefully inspire someone else to love themselves. Quite a few people had really similar perspectives actually- that they used to be embarrassed by the stigma around selfies, but that they have embraced them as their confidence grew. Their confidence does not rely on the selfie- they post selfies now BECAUSE of their confidence.


One follower wrote that for her, they are a way to CAPTURE your confidence in that moment so that you can look back on it later, and be inspired to recapture that. Wow!!! That’s one of my favorite comments I received. What an incredible perspective to have on it.


Almost every single response, from millennial and gen z women, said that they do not see selfies as narcissistic and instead wrote that selfies are indicative of CONFIDENCE, SELF LOVE, and having FUN!!! Quite a few ladies said that selfies are actually often a fresh reality check, in comparison to the overly styled blogger pics that are all over Instagram. It makes those people feel that Instagram is being “normalized” in a way.


Then, I asked those who share “because it makes them happy” why it makes them happy. One in particular wrote that she didn’t used to feel happy or confident- but now she does, and she likes to share that love and light with others. Personally I feel that that is the best reason to post a selfie- it’s my favorite reason, in fact. When I feel really good and I post a picture to share that, I want to inspire other people to feel good also. I don’t need them to tell me I’m pretty- honestly I know I’m cute. I want people to see how good I feel and feel that way for themselves. To inspire somebody to love themselves. And, to those of you who say “but why does it have to be posted? My friend Katie answered that for us. She said that the happiness comes from the act of taking the selfie and how it makes her feel- she posts it to bless everybody with her face!!!!!! Hahahaha


Finally, though, almost every single person who responded wrote that they believe that those who see selfies as self-centered and attention seeking are insecure about themselves in some way. And while I may or may not agree with that, I think that one of the most important comments was this: one girl said that she used to feel really negatively about selfies when her confidence was low. And then as she grew as a person, she realized.. She did not care. Selfies did not matter to her, and another person posting one was not something she was going to put her energy into being upset about- because it just did not matter. So, why care about it?


Ultimately, what I’ve been thinking is this- selfies can have really negative effects, yes. But the intention is what matters. The important thing is to remember that for soooo many people, that they’re just for fun. Don’t take them, or social media, so seriously. Have fun with it. And don’t put all of your energy into being negative towards other people. Simple.


Takeaways:

selfies are fine

intentionality

don't be mean to people


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