Of Selfies & Narcissism

**I do not own any of the pictures used in this post.**

Advances in technology have changed the face of the world drastically over the past 20 years.  I am 36 years old and when I was in high school the most advanced piece of equipment I had was a pager and our computer at home had AOL dial up.  Remember that annoying telephone dial sound?  And heaven forbid someone pick up the house phone while you were trying to connect to the internet.

Now there are multiple computers in every home and we all live on high speed internet.  There is a smart phone in every hand, a tablet in every bag, and a kindle to replace your gaudy bookshelves.  Pretty soon The Sims will replace your actual family members and conversation with fleshy humans will be obsolete!  Yay!

selfie

OMG.  Hot.

This post will not delve into all the finer points of the rise in technology, but one minor aspect that has come along with it — the selfie.

One definition I found that I feel sums it all up came from Urban Dictionary.com:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

The rise in the number of “selfies” spreading like wildfire across the internet makes me a bit nauseous and it got me thinking recently.  Here is what I came to:

1. The ratio of women to men is pretty skewed.

I used the almighty Google to back my claim in this regard.  I typed in the word ‘selfie’ and then counted out the first 100 pictures.  There were 112 faces in those pictures and 73% of them were female.  22% were male.  A staggering 2% were Woody from Toy Story.  Figure THAT out.

What does this mean?  I think the reality that physical image weighs more heavily on females than it does on males is not a question in this day and age.  Some smart, attractive women have also used this craze to get themselves paid quite well because there is a whole gaggle of stupid males out there who will constantly stare at pretty women on the internet like slobbering neanderthals.

2. Selfies have given rise to the god awful facial expression known as “Duck Lips.”

Have you seen this face?  Urban Dictionary provided me with another invaluable definition once again:  image

Where one’s lips look like a duck’s bill(beak). Most ** make kissing faces while they take endless pictures of themselves and post them at various places on the internet. They think it looks really cool, but they actually look like an ugly a** duck. It looks really AWFUL, and makes me want to destroy the internet because so many people are doing it.
Guy1: Yo did you see her myspace? 
Guy2: Yeah! She looks like a real ** with those duck lips!

I know there are plenty of people out there mocking the face now, as it rightly should be, and good on you, but there are honest to goodness people who believe this face is hot.  Like,”you know you wanna f*%$ me,” hot.  I am here to tell you that, no… no, you are not.  Stop pursing your lips like a pouting baby before someone comes along and pulls them off your face because you are no longer mature enough to use them properly.  Ugh.  The sad thing is that Duck Lips are now being replaced by another horrid thing called Fish Gape.  Will the insanity never end?

3.  The world is antisocial enough as it is.  Do we need one more excuse not to talk to actual people?

One of my largest gripes with selfies is that they are taken in one of two settings: in one’s own home, quite obviously in one’s room or… even stranger… one’s bathroom (seriously, what the hell with that?)  or in a massively public place near a landmark or monument type structure.

In regards to the first instance, I will tackle that in point 4.

The second instance however is just sad.  Many times you can actually see other human beings in the background of people’s selfies.  Is it really so trendy to take the picture yourself now that you can’t just stop and say, “excuse me, but do you mind taking a picture for me?”  How many times have you asked someone that question?  How many times have you been asked?  Why are we actively seeking every reason in the world to not interact with other human beings?  It’s not a hard question to ask and it’s a request that the majority of people would be happy to do, but we are passing it up to take subpar pictures in order to be trendy.

girl-rome-selfie-shutterstock_152914343

Look at all those people at the Colosseum… JK! Look at ME, damn it!

I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  It’s like the people who go to Starbucks together to study and spend the entire time instant messaging each other through their computers.  TALK, damn you!  Are other people really that scary?

4. When did narcissism become sexy?

Selfies are a form of ego masturbation in my opinion.  Looking at the picture above do you think the girl wants you to focus on the colosseum… or her, “I’m so cute!” face?  Go with B.  It’s sure fire.

For that matter, take a look at the majority of selfies that are taken.  What seems to be their main purpose?  For you to look at that person’s marvellous face, and only that.  To bask in the glory.  I was always taught growing up not to spend too much time looking in the mirror because no one likes vanity.  Now vanity has become a typical mode of self promotion.  When did the world become okay with such blatant self love?

I will temper this by saying that this comes from a man with a headshot on his about page.  This is a picture of me all prettied up and one could argue that such a photograph is also vain in its own right.  I would counter this by saying I only paid for and produced that picture at the request of my writing mentor who claimed that all real writing professionals need one.  I had a reason for my picture and made sure I found someone else to hold the camera.  If you are obsessed with taking selfies, do you ever stop and wonder why you love to take pictures of yourself so much?  I think you might not like the answer if you can be honest about it.

5.  The only thing more ridiculous than the selfie is the selfie stick.

This… just this:

pretty brunette making selfie with a stick

Now you can get a wide angle of my kissy wissy face.  Vomit.

It wasn’t bad enough that people were obsessed with looking at pictures of themselves and their total lack of actual friends (as opposed to their 2,000,000 Facebook friends), but now we had to give them a stick to produce a wider angle?  Seeing people using these things always makes me sad for society.

 

I actually saw someone once trying to set up this perfect shot of themselves and the struggle was quite fierce.  I walked over and offered to take the picture for them and they looked at me like I was speaking alien.  Do you not realise how much money I spent on this stick? their face seemed to say.  They had bought the stick and now they were going to use it.  Never mind that the help of a real live human would have ended their struggle with the perfect shot much quicker, the point was that they didn’t want me interfering and the purchasing of said stick had guaranteed them of harassment free picture taking at any time and from any spot.

It made me sad that such simple interactions are now becoming obsolete because so much of our young society is antisocial and vain.  They don’t want to talk to you, they want to text you.  They don’t want to visit with you, they want to Skype you.  They don’t want a picture with you, they want you to like their selfie on Facebook.

Who knows, maybe in another 10 years we won’t even have to leave the house and we’ll have cameras going 24/7 in our homes to catch us from any sexy angle we choose.  I pray to the gods I don’t live to see it.

What do you think about selfies?  Do you take them?  What is your reason for doing so if you do?  Where do you take them?  I hope I am not alone in my hatred of them.  Happy blogging all!

37 thoughts on “Of Selfies & Narcissism

  1. Well said! I do remember that unmistakable sound of a modem connecting. 🙂 But what has happened to really connecting?
    I started leaving a comment but it was getting long so I will instead use your prompt for my own post. Stay tuned. Thanks for the idea!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You are absolutely not alone in loathing selfies and the sadly ubiquitous narcissist sticks. I find the whole phenomenon of taking hundreds of selfies just for one “good” (subjective) one really sad to be honest. I feel sorry for girls who think it’s an attractive use of their time in the same way that I feel sorry for guys I see snapping photos in the mirror at the gym while flexing with a 50 pound weight. Both phenomena (girls with their head shot duck face selfies and guys with their half naked gym mirror selfies) I personally view as a reflection on what I assume is an underlying insecurity. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, as with anything. Personally I don’t mind when people on social media post the occasional selfie here or there, but by occasional I mean maybe once or twice a year… nothing close to the daily basis most people do. The only reason Dear Betrothed and I ever take selfies (of the two of us in the same shot, obviously), is if we are on vacation in a very touristy area and wouldn’t trust handing our camera over to a stranger where pickpockets may be rampant.

    As for the professional head shot, I think that’s totally different, since as you pointed out most if not all authors need one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Being in a tourist area where there are shady folks around, I get. And as a couple it can be fun sometimes to take pictures that way and it’s a bit less of a hassle. My wife actually does it all the time (take pictures of the two of us ‘selfie’ style), but those are hers to keep in her phone. As you said, in moderation it is fine. The problem is the huge section of people who don’t do it in moderation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I 100% agree. I guess, the more I think about it, it seems that there are fundamentally two different types of selfies. There are the innocent (in a sense) ones where you occasionally take one or two of yourself and/or a friend/partner. Then there are the ones where a person — usually a young female — spends quite literally hours taking hundreds of shots, using tons of lenses and filters and Photoshopping until she looks like a blurred Barbie face. I’ve honestly got to wonder if that will appear in the DSM-IV book at some point.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. P.S. What the heck is up with Woody taking selfies? Am I missing something haha? If any Disney character were to be a habitual selfie taker, I would not assume it to be Woody. Tinker Bell, on the other hand, I can totally see being a selfie narcissist!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SO MUCH to say about this. Check out http://selfiecity.net/#dataset … they’ve gathered roughly 1000 selfies across half a dozen nations and analyzed them. The selfie is definitely becoming a thing of study in academia… because it’s ubiquitous and goddamned annoying. Some of my old students and I found a relationship between narcissism and number of selfies on Instagram, and also the follow/following ratio (e.g., you have tons of followers but you follow no one). So that totally supports your hypotheses. To your points directly:

    1) Some research shows that women take significantly more selfies than men (see the website above) but others have found the reverse (http://www.salon.com/2015/01/30/study_finds_men_are_twice_as_likely_to_take_selfies_as_women/). Another found… oh, never mind. People do it, usually for stupid narcissistic reasons. But if it makes you feel better, most photos are not selfies – only 5-10% of them (on average). The people for whom 80% of their photos are selfies? THEY’RE the crazy narcissists.

    2) DUCK. LIPS. MIGHT. WORK. God help us. One study suggested that “men find women with full lips and high cheekbones attractive – essential because those are linked in our minds to youth and high levels of the female hormone estrogen. Girls pulling the duck face or sucking on a straw are sending an evolutionary signal that they’re fertile.” To summarize, it reminds you that their lips are sexual objects. And guys go for it. Well, not you or me. But a lot of idiots do. Ugh.

    3, 4, and 5) I agree with you on straight up. There are literally books about 4), I’ve even read some of them (http://www.amazon.com/The-Narcissism-Epidemic-Living-Entitlement/dp/1416575995, for example). It’s goddamned Western society. We’re so obsessed with appearance… and it’s bleeding slowly into other nations that want to be JUST LIKE US. Japan, for one.

    I occasionally will take a selfie, and it’s usually with Gina when there’s no one else there. If there IS someone else there, I let them do it because I like talking to people, and I like photos of more than an arm and two faces. But as to vanity, I will admit on occasion to taking that selfie to see if I still look handsome. The answer is “no.” And then I feel stupid that I took it, and bad about my appearance. Which gets to the heart of what you were saying: there’s vanity and ego and self-presentation involved, especially because most people take like 60 selfies and then post the best one. This is not reality we’re selling to ourselves and others.

    I do think you’re maybe being a little hard on the young ladies… society has entrenched them in the idea that their value is all in their appearance, and it’s reinforced STRONGLY by men. Fix that problem, and you will’ve fixed a bunch of things, duckface included. But “fishgape” can’t be a fair thing! It’s just a person’s resting face. Everything doesn’t have to have a stupid name. When you take a photo and you smile, is that called “piranha-grin?” People get dinged for trying too hard but they also get dinged for being overly nonchalant about it, too.

    There, thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was being a little hard but it makes for a better point if you swing a bit more to one side than you may totally believe. Being more conservative and middling doesn’t always get the conversation going 🙂 I do understand that there are acceptable situations where one would take a selfie. Airi does it with almost all of our couple pictures as well. The issue is more with people who take hundreds of them and post them constantly.

      I agree that everything doesn’t have to have a name, but I didn’t come up with that… I found the article when I typed in “selfie” into Google. While I agree that some of them are resting face, I don’t rest my face with my mouth open. Do you? I think there are some pretentious ‘unintentional’ intentional faces that models make. Some I can get over and it’s whatever, but sometimes it strikes me as trying to hard to be “hot.”

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      • I actually believe that the selfie is good for the woman/girls self esteem. Musically, facebook, instagram, twitter, ect is all a new way for people to actually just be themselves. I look at my daughters page and instead of seeing narcissistic I see strong and empowered. As a teenager I would never have let any picture of me leave the camera if it wasn’t perfect. None the less go out into the real world.I now believe that is vane and narcissistic! I believe selfies are a new growth for girls everywhere. Be proud, be yourself, and a bad label as narcissistic shouldn’t apply here!

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  5. And actually one more that deserves it’s own separate reply: people ARE scary.

    They always have been.

    Remember trying to walk up to a girl and tell her you thought she was cute (or leaving her a note and running away?). I do. And now people don’t have to anymore.

    They don’t have to break up with a person and watch them cry, either. Basically all the things we wished we could sort of avoid are now completely avoidable. And I think avoiding them is absolutely terrible for humanity. Everyone should have to mangle a cute introduction awkwardly in their lives, and everyone should give the respect of at least a phone call when you don’t want to talk to them anymore.

    It’s even worse: one of my old friends who only talks to me now on Facebook gave me his phone number and said I should call sometime to catch up. AND I WAS LITERALLY AFRAID TO. What if conversations was weird? I didn’t know what I would say to him. Facebook is so much safer.

    We need to stop being safe. Safety and sandwich isn’t everything.

    PS: I made it a point to call him. It WAS awkward. But then it was less awkward. That’s life. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree. The times I have thrown it out there and screwed it up built character and taught me a lot about people. The sad thing about computers and ‘social networking’ is that it allows people to create a whole person that doesn’t exist in front of actual people. It’s like the teenage kids who like to troll people on MMORPGs and the cyber bullies. A lot of those people are using the disconnect as a shield and it’s dehumanizing our social interactions.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Oliver,
    Thank you for writing about this particularly sorry subject. Ugh! That freakin duck face! To honestly answer your question though I did go through the selfie exercise a few years ago with my camera staging a few what I liked to think of “self-portraits” (a classic).
    Whats the difference in my mind between self-portrait and selfie? The self-portrait is to reveal something of the artist’s character or vision and is somewhat artistically staged.
    The selfie is a poor parent only revealing the vanity of the subject (1: mama look at me! 2: look where I’ve been!)
    I took great pleasure in reading your article as I sigh endlessly at the dereliction of humans social skills and suffer from it greatly.
    I’m still reluctant to smartphone and enjoy asking (and answering) for directions in the street and subway. I’ve met friends that way!
    Lately I’ve come across the sad reality of the real means of so-called social network (Facebook of course) when I tried to use it as a tool to actually meet in person, get new contacts for real-life encounters or schedule a real phone conversation.
    In the course of a month I was denied all three without even the care to apologize and/or say “sorry I’m busy at the moment lets do this later”. NADA! I was stood up like nothing ever happened. Protected by the screen, people allow themselves to become absolute non-educated jerks. It seems like the only finality of these networks are to stare at ones selfies, post kitten videos and like other selflies. Debate commenting is rather rare when interesting however I count endless comments over private jokes that are meant for nominees only.
    I’m 38 years old. Why do I feel like a maverick when I set a time and date for an encounter without texting in between???
    I understand there’s a change of century going on but the future seems bleak when it comes to “connecting people”…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I, obviously, agree with almost everything you said. I think the screen allows people to see other humans as non-human. You don’t have to confront the disappointment in their face, or hear it in their voice when you do it over the computer. You just send out your hurtful message or ignore the person completely and what happens? Nothing. You can blow it off with next to no real consequence. This is teaching people an awful lesson about how to treat other human beings.

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  7. Writers need a professional headshot? Well, there’s no hope for me, then. I’m marginally less photogenic than a cow pat and I avoid being in any pictures if possible. On a good day, the camera catches me with my eyes fully closed, but usually I’m mid-blink and look like a total moron. The only pictures I’ve made available online are ones in which I wear huge sunglasses…

    Do I have to say mention that I loathe selfies?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have been reading up a lot about ‘building platform’ as a writer (Chuck Sambuchino’s “Create Your Writer Platform) and part of his advice is to have a headshot when you start querying so the agents/publishers have a face to put with the name. I’m sure it’s not nearly as bad as you claim, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

      Lemony Snicket is a writer I really like and he hides his face in all his pictures as part of his writer character. You write well, so sell the words and the rest shouldn’t really matter.

      Like

  8. It was a hilarious post!!! Couldn’t stop laughing. I loved the way you wrote about this topic.Not just selfies, in fact taking pictures in general has become a big nuisance nowadays. With advent of social media, we are obsessed with taking pics. of every small things and posting them, instead of enjoying the moment. I am myself a culprit many times. I attended a marriage recently, where the guests were shunted around so that perfect pictures could be taken.

    And what to say about people sitting together and communicating through instant messaging? It sometimes happens in our house as well, when my son remains immersed in his mobile at dining table. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • We were guilty of that a little on our recent trip to Disneyland, focusing more on taking pictures of things than really paying attention to how our daughter was reacting to everything.

      We are trying to capture life and missing out on the experience of it.

      As to the computer thing, people are forgetting how to get along with actual people and it’s sad. Talking with live people can get you in trouble, can lead to arguments or misunderstandings, and then confrontations. The computer is a shield for all of that.

      Like

  9. I don’t mind seeing the odd selfie. My friends tend to take silly/funny selflies which I think is a bit different. I don’t do selflies. I have two ‘friends’ who constantly take posed selflies and post several at a time. Interestingly, they are both female and in their early/mid twenties.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: There’s an app for that | girlygeekgirl

    • Oh, the bile… ugh. Thank you for the ping back but now I need to go bang my head on something hard. What is wrong with our world that we need apps like that? Or that some poor soul is happily using it to create a face that isn’t theirs?

      Like

    • You are very welcome and thank you for the comment and compliment. I have no read the book but I just looked it up on Amazon. It looks really interesting. As a parent myself I struggle with the questions of what I will do when my child gets to the teen years. Do I want her having video games? Watching TV? Having a cell phone? Even if I deny her these things, who will she interact with? All the other children have them… it’s really frustrating to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

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