I have never taken a selfie. OK, that’s a lie. I’ve sent pictures of myself to friends on Snapchat, and texted photos of me making weird faces to my sister when I’m bored, but I have never publicly shared a picture taken of me, by me. If you had asked me why a year ago, I probably would have said something like, “They disgust me.” I thought I was simply above it. I walked around, head held high, because I had not fallen into the technology-infatuated, self-obsessed millennial stereotype. The truth is, however, I was afraid, and I still am.

People take selfies because they are in full control of how they look. You don’t have to wait for Uncle Bob to count to three, try to figure out how to take the picture, count to three again, and then take it after another grueling ten seconds; by then, your smile is cramping, your hair is frizzing, your body is twitching, and you know that there is no chance this photo is a keeper. With selfies, you can always capture your best side (because for some reason, half of a face always looks better than the whole), show off everything you want to, and wait for the perfect moment to capture. Selfies are the pictures in which everyone looks their best, but in reality, when you share a selfie, you are at a pretty vulnerable point. You have given the world an opportunity to judge a picture in which you are the sole focus (and it’s not even zoomed out!). Sure, all your girlfriends will comment things like, “Gorgeous” “Beautiful,” and “Can I be you?” but somewhere out there, there is someone picking apart every detail of the picture you worked so hard to create. And if you look bad when you’re trying your hardest to look good, what hope is there for you?

Across the country, there are probably dozens of corporate meetings that have taken place to discuss the next step in teen-manipulation. “What else can we throw out there that we know teens will buy?” Companies make billions off of products specifically tailored to become the next teen addiction, and now, because of it, my generation has been labeled as “self-absorbed” by the people who are responsible for starting it all! Why are we blamed for falling into the traps specifically set for us? Why are we called “narcissistic” when all we’re trying to do is fit in? These “revolutionary” devices and applications have opened up platforms for people to blatantly call each other ugly. Without the “cyber,” there is no “cyber-bullying,” and I am certain that a 13-year-old kid did not invent the internet. And don’t get me wrong, I am not an advocate for shutting down all social media forums, nor do I support cyber-bullying in any way. In my opinion, this is a problem that can only be solved with a change in perspective. When someone is bullied, they are often told or called something (even if it is untrue) so many times that they start to believe it is true. Once people stop labeling millennials as unappreciative, egotistic teenagers, maybe they will see that we aren’t. Each generation has faced the challenge of making it through middle and high school, some of the hardest years of our lives. Millennials happened to be born at the dawn of the “Era of Technology,” so instead of wearing Jordache jeans and shoulder pads, we have the difficult challenge of presenting the perfect image of ourselves on every social media platform we can. People see teens taking selfies as an act of self-centeredness, when in reality, it is an act of self-consciousness. We live in a time in which the best way to fit in is to stand out, and we are manipulated into thinking that social media is the best way to do so.

That’s my problem with selfies. The people that “hate” selfie-taking, Instagram-loving millennials are the ones responsible for the existence of the stereotype in the first place. I do think that the world would be a better place if we all looked up every once in a while, but I don't think it's our fault for barely being able to. Everyone has been so quick to criticize us, that they have been blind to the fact that we are just trying to make it in the dog-eat-dog world that high school is, and just because our methods are different than those from the past, doesn’t mean our generation as a whole can be discredited.