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What Your Selfies Reveal About Your Psyche

What Your Selfies Reveal About Your Psyche

The duck face, ugly lip face and no makeup selfie have all been social media trends at one time or another. I am certain that I have participated in a few similar image sharing rituals myself. Dare I mention the time I took a drunk selfie and plastered it all over Facebook?

I am not so sure my family or colleagues were too happy about that either.

Selfies can reveal a great deal

“What selfies unmask about our real personality is shocking.” says Linda Roy, support worker on arousr.com who gets about a thousand selfies to review each and ever day. I thought I had seen just about everything, and then along comes another crazy trend to outdo the last one.

According to Williams and Marquez, co-authors of “The Lonely Selfie King: Selfies and the Conspicuous Presumption of Gender and Race,” a research paper from Texas A&M University, “It’s no secret that taking selfies has become part of the social media phenomenon.” Many psychologists believe that the photos an individual chooses to take can also reveal a great deal.

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  • Individuals such as celebrities who take them without makeup are likely to be confident in their looks.
  • People who take a huge amount of photos of themselves tend to be narcissistic.
  • People who shy away from the mere mention of a selfie may be harboring a deep sense of self-loathing.
  • “Dic Pics” are indicative of a person trying to ascertain power and dominance over the receiver. That explains a lot!

While these points may seem obvious, there just might be more to this selfie story than it meets the eye.

It’s only a selfie – the new ego

The social messages behind selfies are considered part of normal social behavior. However, it is a kind of blind acceptance based entirely on the large number of them. Really, we have no choice. Either we go along with the crowd or get lost in the shuffle. It isn’t who is producing them but rather who is reacting to them that actually determines trends.

When a person posts a selfie, they will be rewarded through likes, approvals and in some cases rejections. This may actually be the motivation for people who post more selfies than others. They are seeking approval or disapproval of projected cultural, gender, and sexual norms. What motivates the people to like or dislike them also plays a huge part in this fame game. Their motivations are purely narcissistic in nature. In some ways, it is a socially acceptable way of being judge, jury, and executioner.

This also explains why some people don’t like to post selfies. They fear rejection. Therefore, it can be assumed that confident people are the ones most likely posting selfies. I can hear the sounds of “Material Girl” playing in the background as I read these words.

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Establishing one’s own self-identity and social identity

These explanations go beyond sociopathic and narcissistic behaviors, though. There is another important reason as well. Social media is a forum for establishing one’s own self-identity and social identity.

Establishing who we are as individuals is based primarily on how people see us in the social media sphere.

For each individual, selfies convey a message about their racial identity, sexual orientation, masculinity or femininity, and the rituals they partake in.

In this context, it is seen as a form of performance art and self-expression. This has two outcomes.

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  1. The art reflects the norms of the culture in which the “performer” is embedded. By continually participating in this ritual, the performer becomes accepted into this culture.
  2. Contributing to this set of rules and norms means they are shifting the norms of gender, sex, and race and forcing others to blindly accept them.

How often a person produces selfies plays a role in determining whether someone is narcissistic or not. How do you put a number on it? How much is too much?  This has yet to be determined. But it is actually quite high. Some individuals post upwards of 20-30 selfies a day.  Yes, Virginia, this is a bit excessive!

In 2015, Guntuki, Qiu, Lin, and Jakhetiya (other researchers) viewed the posting of a selfie as a type of self-portrait. This self-portrait depicted the poster’s wishes of how they wanted to be perceived by the viewer. Whether that happens or not depends solely on the viewer. You cannot make someone think or feel how you want them too. Doing so is simply an egotist approach to art.

“I think it’s pretentious to create art just for the sake of stroking the artist’s ego” – Lou Reed

The people behind the camera

These researchers ran an experiment to see if a computer model could guess the personality of the poster based on visual cues in the photos. The experiment used several categories and indicators or physical markers to make their predictions. The study found significant correlations between various visual indicators and a number of personality traits.

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  • Photos that showed emotional positivity predicted the agreeableness of the person.
  • A smile is indicative of mutual acceptance.
  • Using the duck face predicted neuroticism. Who knew the duck face could say so much?
  • Conscientiousness was predicted by being in a public location when the selfie was taken.
  • The amount of openness of the individual was indicated by eye contact with the camera.
  • Nude selfies paint a completely different picture. They are not indicative of person’s desire to engage in sexual activity but rather his or her performance capabilities. A mating ritual of sorts.

The research clearly shows that selfies contain a wealth of visual information. Do you want that information to be used to determine your worth? Imagine what can be done with this information? This is a potential marketing strategy of the future (if that hasn’t already taken place)

No one knows for sure what will become of the selfie but one thing is for certain, they can be used to study how people judge others.

Other works cited: http://www.ntu.edu.sg/home/linqiu/publications/ACM2015.pdf

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Madeline Foster

Free Lance Writer

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Published on July 7, 2020

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

The Skinny on Mental Workouts

Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

1. Improved Memory

After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

2. Reduced Stress Levels

Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

3. Improved Work Performance

Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

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Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

1. Brainstorming

One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

2. Dancing

Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

3. Learning a New Language

Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

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4. Developing a Hobby

Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

For example:

  • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
  • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
  • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
  • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

5. Board Games

Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

6. Card Games

Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

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7. Puzzles

Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

8. Playing Music

Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

9. Meditating

Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
  • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
  • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
  • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
  • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

10. Deep Conversation

There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

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Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

11. Cooking

When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

12. Mentorship

Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

Final Thoughts

Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

More Tips for Training Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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