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How Selfies Are Harming People

How Selfies Are Harming People
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What started as a harmless fun activity during vacations has grown into a global obsession that is beginning to turn into something quite sinister and disturbing: the selfie! Recent horror stories of how the growing obsession with selfie-taking has led teenagers to even take selfies at gruesome accident sites have highlighted once more how selfies are seriously harming society in general and young people in particular.

What was unthinkable only a few years ago – one only has to think of the global outrage caused by photographs French paparazzi took of Princess Diana’s motor accident site in Paris – is now common practice. The more gruesome the background, the more teenagers seem to enjoy taking pictures of themselves and post them online. The reason? The get-famous-quick-without-talent-and-hard-work syndrome that has gripped the world, ever since the first auditions for shows like “American Idol” “Britain has Talent” or “The X-Factor” have polluted our TV screens. But it is also a growing obsession with body image that prompts millions of Internet users each day to post selfies – often several times a day – online.

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What are we turning into?

What people who have lost the capacity for empathy and compassion turn into, was aptly and shockingly highlighted in Anthony Burgess’s novel Clockwork Orange. Smartphone selfies are already being linked to mental health conditions such as extreme narcissism and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.Psychiatrist Dr David Veal explained the phenomenon’s inevitable results. “Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take and post selfies on social media sites. Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help a patient to recognize the reasons for his or her compulsive behavior and then to learn how to moderate it,” he said in an interview with the British newspaper The Sunday Mirror.

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Wannabes who don’t want to put in the work

A growing number of psychologists believe selfies are responsible for increases in the statistics for addiction, mental illness, suicide and narcissism. The case of British teenager Danny Bowman, who tried to kill himself simply because he hadn’t taken the “perfect” selfie, highlights the urgency that our kids must learn to do something more proactive with their time than stare at themselves through the viewfinder of their Smartphones. Bowman reputedly spent up to 10 hours a day taking 200 selfies on average to achieve the perfect shot. After his mom discovered him just in time – he’d taken an overdose – Danny stated in an interview with The Sunday Mirror: “I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t, I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life.” He is now being treated for technology addiction, OCD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder at the Maudsley Hospital in London, where his therapy involves removing his iPhone for intervals of 10 minutes, then to 30 minutes before taking it away for a whole hour.

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Less tweeting, more living

Already public health officials in the UK are warning that people’s addiction to cruising social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has turned into an illness that sends 100 patients a year to seek treatment. They are no longer living their lives having real experiences; they simply exist to tweet about every nasal hair they’re growing and every breath they take. Expert Pamela Rutledge stated in Psychology Today: “Selfies frequently trigger perceptions of self-indulgence or attention-seeking social dependence that raises the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t spectre of either narcissism or very low self-esteem.” Addicts like Bowman want to be famous and seek attention, but they don’t want to put in any work to hone a talent they might possess – the public perception of pop stars, supermodels and actors in the media is that these people hopped out of an egg, perfectly formed and utterly beautiful and talented, and they stay in this air-brushed condition for the remainder of their careers. Nobody mentions how long it may take to make Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian look this perfect every day, how many hours they have to spend in the gym to look so fit, and how much plastic surgery goes on behind the closed doors of Hollywood’s most expensive private clinics.

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Technology should help mankind to improve, not make us worse than we already are

Selfies have been appearing since 2004, but it was the introduction of Smartphones, especially the iPhone 4, that allowed people to use front-facing cameras on go selfie mad from 2010 onward. The latest annual Ofcom communications report shows that 60% of Britain’s mobile phone users now own a Smartphone. Another recent survey, conducted among more than 800 teenagers by Pew Research Center in the US, discovered that 91% uploaded pictures of themselves online, an increase from 79% in 2006.

Seeking approval from one’s peers by posting selfies is one thing, but many disgruntled teens are using selfies to bully others, taking revenge for perceived wrongs with increasingly tragic consequences. Cyber bullying is on the rise. Taking a selfie with a distraught fellow student or classmate who has just received a bullying text message is just one example of the Clockwork Orange effect selfies have on society. The increase of digital narcissism puts more and more pressure on young people to achieve unattainable goals. They eventually despair when they cannot look like the latest pop sensation, supermodel or famous actor. Unfortunately, the selfie-taking addiction also comes with a total lack of “work ethic”. The wannabe’s expectation of high entitlement and “can’t be bothered to work for it” attitude are lethal, especially when this stance on life and self is constantly reinforced and rewarded by other social media addicts. This distortion of reality does nothing but consolidate narcissism and delusions of grandeur that are setting up young people to fail utterly in life.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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