Advertising
Advertising

How Selfies Are Harming People

How Selfies Are Harming People

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

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.

Advertising

More by this author

tech-savvy students 30 College Tools Which Make College Life as Easy as ABC Scientists Explain Why Some People Are Left-Handed Fun Selfies How Selfies Are Harming People Book Every Woman Should Read These 6 Books Recommended By Sheryl Sandberg 10 Free Online Courses To Make You More Successful

Trending in Communication

1 40 Acts of Kindness to Make the World a Better Place 2 6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak 3 How to Train Your Brain to Be Optimistic 4 How to Stop Living on Autopilot with Antonio Neves 5 The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

Advertising

Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

Advertising

How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

Advertising

Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

Read Next