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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.

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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.

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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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