[News] Selfie Addiction: The Dangers In Chasing The “Perfect Photo”
On November 19, 2013, Oxford Dictionaries deemed “selfie” as their International Word of the Year. Defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website,” it’s no surprise that the generation of Millenials account for 55% of all selfies taken.
According to psychiatrist Dr. David Veal, who spoke with the Sunday Mirror, selfies have now been linked with various mental conditions, including addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) — a body-image disorder “characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance.”
Danny Bowan, a teenager from the United Kingdom, had an addiction to selfies that progressed into suicide attempts. In a recent talk show appearance, Bowan admitted to taking up to 200 selfies in one day, chasing after the “perfect shot.” After unhealthy weight-loss of 30lbs and withdrawing from school, a suicide attempt made him realize just how serious the situation was.
Could There Be More Behind Selfies?
The sociology of the selfie has even caught the attention of researchers. Selfiecity, an investigative selfie-mapping project, debuted in February. Independent and university researchers analyzed Instagram selfies taken in Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York and San Paolo. The end result was a collaboration of 3,200 photos; 600 from each city that they felt accurately represented their Instagram demographic.
While the project did not lead to any conclusive data, due to the large margin of error and relatively small sample size in comparison to the rest of the world, researchers still found some note-worthy stats. In every city, women accounted for more selfies taken. Facial expressions varied, too; Bangkok and San Paolo were more smiley than Moscow and Berlin. But beyond numerical data and qualitative studies, the research reminds viewers that there is more to the selfie. In an essay that followed the study, researchers concluded that these types of photos are linked to a chain of events and social norms, including “likes,” comments, and re-shares by others.
Psychologist and author Linda Papadopoulos talks about the outcomes that can come from selfie-taking in her book Whose Life Is It Anyway? and how the impact extends beyond a simple snapshot.
“With each selfie we a) compare ourselves to professionally photo-edited images and b) run the risk of micro-analysing our appearance in the way only a photo editor would. Very quickly the thought ‘I hate my legs’ can turn into ‘I hate myself’, because our identities become hung up on how many likes we get, rather than what sort of people we are.” — Linda Papadopoulos, author of Whose Life Is It Anyway?
The Bottom Line
Taking a selfie doesn’t make you a bad person or put you in any immediate danger. Like most things in life, everything in moderation — including moderation. But if you’re feeling symptomatic of BDD and find yourself obsessively chasing the perfect photo, never be afraid to reach out for help.
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto.
I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP
, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid
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