Recently, I came across a very interesting article in which the scientists have revealed that selfies are linked with narcissism, self-objectivism and psychopathy. What will happen if Facebook introduces the dislike button? I think everyone of us will agree to a certain extent that whenever we upload a photo of ours or a selfie on the Facebook wall, we definitely want others to like our pic and get some good comments. Why is it that we try to upload our best selfies (and sometimes even edit it) and wait for others to comment on it? How many times we keep on checking the Facebook wall just to see the number of likes and comments increasing? And yes, we feel happy about it. What exactly is the psychology behind this?
How are Selfies Associated with Narcissism and Psychopathy?
Selfies are harmless and they are fun. Right? This may not be true always. Scientific studies have revealed that selfies can depict a lot about your personality, and it may not be in a good way. Strange, isn’t it? How can a self portrait of someone uploaded on a social media site be harmful? The reason: wanting to see themselves perfect, people put their photos the right way, which display their impulsivity — a characteristic of psychopathy. In fact, studies have also revealed that men are more obsessed with selfies than women.
The study was conducted by the Ohio State University in which 800 men aged between 18 and 40 years were surveyed, the result of which was published in the online journal “Personality and Individual Differences”. A personality questionnaire was asked to filled in by these participants related to various questions, like how many selfies they had taken, how much time they spent on Facebook and other sites, how many selfies they had posted, how many other photos they had posted, what various methods they had used to make themselves look better in pictures and so on.
The result confirmed that men who share selfies online are subject to narcissism, self-objectification and psychopathy.
- Narcissism:When you are extremely self-centred, too much obsessed with your looks, consider yourself to be superb or better in your appearance or style from others, you want to be admired and praised all the time, and you inherently believe that you deserve all privileges or special treatment, you are then a victim of narcissism.
- Psychopathy: Psychopathy is basically a kind of mental illness or disorder, in which the victim suffers from the lack of empathy, displays a bold behaviour and impulsivity, with an anti-social personality.
- Self-objectification: Self-objectification is a tendency for a person to consider his body as an object based on his sexual, physical and looks worth.
The Link with Selfies
The people who post their selfies consider themselves to be better than others, which is linked with narcissism. Actually they may suffer from some inherent insecurities. The selfies, like psychopaths, are prone to impulsiveness. And, the last finding was most interesting: the link between selfies and self-objectification. People who are in the category of self-objectification posted more selfies, as they placed their value on appearance and expected more feedback, likes, comments from friends online, which encouraged them to post more selfies. Basically, what the study revealed was that people who are obsessed with selfies are those with some inner insecurities. It is also strange that untill a few years back self-objectification that was observed in women only, is now being seen in men too.
As the study was conducted on 800 men, we cannot conclude that all men who post selfies are actually narcissists or psychopaths. What is revealed was that these 800 respondents scored higher in self-obsession, anti-social traits or impulsiveness compared to the average men who are not much involved in uploading their selfies. The study only looked at the habits of men and researchers are presently looking at the tendencies of women.
A Case Study
A British male teenager, Danny Bowman, tried to take his own life when he could not take the perfect selfie. He spent ten hours a day and took as many as 200 selfies. The 19-year-old, a school dropout, lost around 30 pounds, stayed at home for six months in his attempt to get the right selfie. Not being able to get the perfect shot, he eventually tried to commit suicide by overdosing, but was saved by his mother.
In the UK, public health officials have in fact considered addiction to social media as an illness and more than 100 patients are treated every year. Medical practitioners abroad have associated selfies with Body Dysmorphic Disorder because the person suffers from obsession with his looks. With the rise of camera phones, posting selfies on social networking sites has increased.
Yes it is true that everyone is concerned about their looks, style and appearance with the growing use of social networks. Spending more time on networking sites, with more and more photo editing and increasing the number of friends without being concerned whether they are genuine or not, we are gradually moving into the world of illusion where we do feel that we are looking our best because our friends have liked our selfies. It’s time to be cautious, so that we don’t get engrossed too much in being self-obsessed with ourselves and our selfies.