But first, should I take a selfie?

October 16, 2015

Do you remember a time before Instagram and Snapchat? Surprisingly, it was only four years ago that Instagram and Snapchat were introduced to the public. In those four years, both social media platforms have blossomed into beautiful sharing spaces for imaginative photos and artwork. Please excuse my thinly-veiled sarcasm.

I use both Instagram and Snapchat. I do not have anything against the platforms themselves; it is the content on these platforms that really makes me cringe. Of course, I’m speaking of the trend that has become so commonplace in our culture that it has become a household word, a theme in countless songs and even an entry to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It is defined as “an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks”: a selfie.

Selfies, in theory, are not a bad thing—they are just pictures. However, no one could have ever expected how selfies would evolve from the years of taking low-quality pictures in the bathroom mirror. Before the selfie was popularized in 2010, it was seen as selfish and narcissistic to have pictures of just yourself on your Facebook and MySpace profiles. However, in 2010, when the iPhone came out with the front facing camera, selfies became more common. When Snapchat and Instagram came out only a few months later, selfies became more and more popular with every picture. Today it is normal to take a selfie and post it on Instagram with the Valencia filter and “#nomakeup” under it. However, selfies do us more harm than we realize.

We let ourselves get caught up in the storm selfies create. We see celebrities, our friends and even random people looking like they came from a professional photo shoot. People post pictures with the caption “#wokeuplikethis” while wearing a full face of makeup. We tilt our phones at awkward angles to hide our flaws and use filters to make our skin look Photoshopped. Why do we do all of this? To fake perfection, to get more likes, to impress our so-called friends on these sites? We do it because, even though we try not to be, we are conceited and want people to like our pictures. Natural beauty and its value are lost in a society where everywhere we look, people are flawless and make perfection seem easy. We deceive ourselves in pictures to make ourselves look better to others.

People may say that selfies encourage self-confidence, but that isn’t entirely true. You may see that edited picture of yourself and feel good for a moment, but when you are constantly bombarded with pictures of other people, you can’t help but start to pick out your flaws and compare yourself. Eventually you don’t see yourself in the picture; you see the flaws you have picked out.

Another problem with selfies is that we too often base our self-esteem on the number of “likes” the selfie gets. The number of people that happened to tap the screen on your picture has no relation to your self-worth. Yet somehow society has implanted into our minds that to be a worthy person you must be popular on social media. That couldn’t be more wrong. Self-worth is based on morals and what you do with the life you are given, not how many people give your picture an imaginary thumbs up.

Selfies are a trend that have affected many while establishing itself in our culture. Its effects have created an air of vanity and egotism on social media sites. Pictures used to be about capturing a moment or smiling with friends, but they are now about looking the best and getting the most attention. We need to take a step back and remember that self-worth doesn’t come from the X-Pro II filter but from who you are as a person.

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