What to make of Generation Selfie?

Last updated 14:00 24/03/2016

The author, Sylvia Matthews, does her best selfie.

How do you feel about selfies?

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Selfies have radically gained popularity in recent years, dominating conversations and bombarding social media. They're even used as a tool to connect people in social environments.

In August 2013 the word "selfie" attained gargantuan universality, allowing for it to be added to the Oxford Dictionary.

United States researcher Dr Gwendolyn Seidman examined possible links between selfies and narcissism. Some of the interviewees said that it increased their self-worth to have their value and/or achievements declared in conjunction with an attractive photograph.

Selfies could be aging you prematurely
Tourist drags swan from water for selfie, swan dies
Former member of Pussycat Doll on mission to stop selfie culture

Narcissism itself is not a single trait. It includes the following:

     1. Self-sufficiency: Believing you can do everything on your own.

     2. Vanity: A tendency to admire your own physical appearance.

     3. Leadership: Authority over others and being willing to exploit others if necessary.

     4. Admiration demand: Exhibitionism, superiority and feeling entitled to special status/privileges.

I interviewed more than 30 individuals aged between 8 and 55 and identified a few interesting correlations. Selfies, self-esteem and social media are best friends and worst enemies.

When I asked my interviewees how they felt when they received no or few likes on a selfie, the most common responses were undervalued, ugly and sad. When several people paid attention to the selfie, the responses were the opposite: attractive, happy, stoked.

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The collective realisation was that there needs to be less dependence on seeking the approval of others, and more energy spent on appreciating oneself.

There was also a correlation between selfie taking and a lack of self-love. The less love one has for themselves, the more prone they are to taking several selfies to achieve an unrealistic portrait of perfection.

It is not unusual to see philosophical quotes attached to selfies to increase meaning. The media portrays models to appear flawless, which pressures females in particular to fit the ideals of what society deems to be beautiful.

The better alternative to expressing self-love, according to New Age techniques? Positive affirmations and "I am" statements, repeated several times a day, every day.

Selfies could be aging you prematurely
Tourist drags swan from water for selfie, swan dies
Former member of Pussycat Doll on mission to stop selfie culture

Generation selfie has enveloped all ages, from youngsters to the elderly, with particular popularity among teens and those in their twenties.

Selfies have the power to both increase and decrease self-esteem. They can help one achieve self-love and/or contribute to narcissism. They can empower a person by making them feel comfortable in their own skin, but also make them subject to scrutiny if they don't fit the status quo.

There are positives and negatives, however balance should be exercised. Love yourself and seek approval from only yourself.

Have you ever looked around and observed the selfie takeover? What do you think of selfies?

Read Sylvia Matthews' blog here

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