Self portraits are nothing new as like a normal photo, they’re meant to capture a specific moment in time. The main difference being a person being the focus of the picture. The word self portrait has been shortened (like other words such as legitimate/legit, application/app, ammunition/ammo) into selfie. While self portraits have been around for hundreds of years, the term “selfie” has only come about recently. The first known use of the term was on Karl Kruszelnicki’s ‘Dr Karl Self-Serve Science Forum’ in 2002:
“Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer (sic) and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.” – Nathan Hope, 2002
The word itself is integrated deeply into youth culture since it blends in well with social media. Social media has a large focus on sharing experiences and thoughts with various people. Social media sites such as Instagram and Snapchat use photos as the main method of interacting with others as well.
Like with the rise of any new trend, there are many who oppose it, the same goes for selfies. People have come to the conclusion that there can be negative side-effects to a selfie.
- Constant selfies will stroke one’s ego and lead to self-favoring bias (Harrison, 2016)
- Selfies can lower self-esteem (Campbell, 2015)
- Narcissism is linked with selfies (Sorokowski, 2015)
Regardless of these negative effects of selfies, a selfie itself is not inherently bad in itself. No harm comes from wanting to capture a moment. On the flip side, there can be some good that come from selfies as well. On websites such as imgur and reddit selfies are used to keep track/show progress of weight loss:
Another thing to keep note is that while selfies are linked to narcissism and people constantly want likes to increase their self worth, their perception of their self worth can be shattered if no likes are obtained. However, those photos and people generally post photos that are considered beautiful or pretty by the public. Posting selfies of someone’s overweight body would get negative reception one might think. However this isn’t the case as with many of progress selfies, they’re met with great reception and even words of encouragement.
This contrasts greatly to popular belief that only beautiful women get positive comments while men get negative comments. While all of that can be true for some cases, it all comes down to intention. If a woman posts a picture of herself with make up and trying her hardest to be beautiful with the sole intention of getting likes, it can be received negatively. On the other hand, if an overweight man posts pictures of himself to keep track of his weight loss over a few months then they will most likely be praised for their efforts. Of course there’s no real way to know the intent of the poster but it’s safe to say people assume when looking at a selfie.
- A brief history of the selfie”. ABC Science blog. ABC Online. Viewed 8 March 2017.
- George Harrison. 2016. If you take lots of selfies then there’s some bad news for you…. Available at: https://www.thesun.co.uk/archives/news/1209329/if-you-take-lots-of-selfies-then-theres-some-bad-news-for-you/. [Accessed 8 March 2017].
- Keith Campbell. 2015. The danger of too many selfies: We’re striving for perfection that won’t come | The Independent. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/the-danger-of-too-many-selfies-were-striving-for-perfection-that-wont-come-10053077.html. [Accessed 8 March 2017].
- Sorokowski, P.; Sorokowska, A.; Oleszkiewicz, A.; Frackowiak, T.; Huk, A.; Pisanski, K. (2015). “Selfie posting behaviors are associated with narcissism among men”. Personality and Individual Differences. 85: 123–7.