Selfies. They have become the ultimate way to take pictures. “Would you mind taking a picture of us?” has been obliterated, for the most part. It’s become the norm to use the front-facing camera rather than the back. Selfies are fun, easy ways to capture a moment. This generation has become so selfie-obsessed that we have taken to posting selfies daily and even created an app to instantly show off our latest ones. You can turn your head in practically every direction and see a phone up in the air and a silly expression on someone’s face. This has led me to wonder: what is so appealing about selfies? Why have they become our preferred method of being photographed?
On Instagram, nearly 300 million photos are tagged with the hashtag “selfie,” a number that is constantly increasing. People take multiple selfies at a time so they have options as to which one to immediately post and even spend time making sure they look good for the sole purpose of taking selfies.
Why do we prefer this method of picture taking, though? According to psychology lecturer Dr. Terri Apter, it is a definition of self. She states that “[people] like being sort of in control of [their] image and getting attention, being noticed, [and] being part of the culture.” We as a society enjoy being in control of every aspect of our lives, so why not control the picture we appear in by taking them ourselves? Self portraits are how we define ourselves, and rather than allow someone else to do that for us, we take charge.
There is another reason for why selfies are so popular amongst not only the younger generation, but also older generations as well. There is a psychological concept called the “looking-glass self.” Sociologist Charles Cooley determined that people grow from their social interactions with others and form an image of themselves based on how they believe others perceive them. When people post selfies, they tend to monitor the amount of likes and comments they get on each photo. Pictures that attract more attention tend to have human faces in them, so what better than to post than a selfie? It helps to boost self-esteem and self-image, especially in girls and women. In a TODAY/AOL survey of teenage girls, 65% said that seeing these pictures on social media boosts their confidence.
As great as posting selfies may feel, overposting can attract negativity. It can seem as if someone is an attention seeker, selfish, or bragging about themselves. The more you post, the less people will respond, due to the flooding of their feeds with your face.
We take selfies because we want to be loved and accepted, as well as to love and accept who we are. Having confidence in ourselves and our image allows us to proudly and comfortably open up to the world. We join in on selfies so that we can be a part of the moment rather than behind the camera for it. Don't be shy or embarrassed! Take your phone, flip it to the front facing camera, and snap away.