You might not be as ‘Selfish’ as Kim Kardashian but chances are, like many Australians, you’ve taken a few selfies in your time. But why do we do it?
Whether you’re a celebrity in Hollywood or a politician in Canberra — everyone’s getting in on arguably the greatest photographic trend of our time, the selfie.
Australia has become a nation of social media lovers with over 13 million of us actively on Facebook and spending the average of 2 hours a day on some form of social media.
But according to one Queensland social psychologist, there are some deeper underlying reasons behind our social media fixations that we should probably think about.
Doctor Fiona Barlow from Griffith University was involved in research that found that our selfie obsession comes down to both narcissism and an interest in others.
“There is a part of fundamental human drive to be recognised, for people to know we are here and that we matter,” Dr Barlow told the ABC.
“We’re involved in the mating game and we want to look attractive to other people.
“So we’re involved in social networks, wanting to make sure we look popular so more people like us.”
Which is ironic considering that similar studies in the UK have found that the selfie phenomenon may be damaging our real world relationships because excessive photo sharing of things like self portraits makes people less likeable.
“People focus a lot of time on their impression management, [for example] ‘how did I look in this photo?’, ‘did what I say make me sound cool?’, ‘do I look popular here?’ Dr Barlow said.
“There is now this culture where we compare ourselves to other people.
“Facebook stalking – where people look at other people’s profiles – has us spending hours comparing ourselves to really publicised images of other people.”
Dr Barlow said the research she was involved in found that this type of comparative behaviour can affect a person’s appearance and diet.
“It can be problematic for people’s body image, in particular, eating disorder behaviours,” she said.
“Things like Instagram are appearance-focused, so the value is placed on how good you look and people become obsessed with it.
“People can take drastic measures like extreme dieting.”
The influence of other people’s opinions on our self identities has developed over the last century, with concepts like ‘the looking glass’ suggesting that we develop our sense of self based on perceptions and interactions with others.
“Now that we can interact with hundreds – no, thousands – of people simultaneously, we’ve strengthened the impact that others have on our self-value,” said Dr. Andrea Letamendi, a doctor of psychology at UCLA.
Why do you take selfies? Share your thoughts in the comments below!