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I've Had It! Why Everyone Needs To Stop Taking Selfies

Apr 1, 2014 at 6:45 PM Chime in now

I've Had It! Why Everyone Needs To Stop Taking Selfies

THINKSTOCK

Here's the thing -- I love style blogs. I'm a huge fan of Instagram (even though I just joined). I adore Twitter (read: addicted). But I'm one of a growing group of people who -- despite my adoration for all things social media -- can't stand selfies.

It wasn't always this way. A few years ago, when the selfie first took over everything from Facebook to Pinterest, the notion of seeing someone take a pic of themselves in a well-crafted ensemble was inspirational; you could see how someone from Australia to France styled a jean jacket. That, to me, was incredible.

Then came the selfie that broke the Internet (I love you Ellen, but that moment proved selfies were no longer about inspirational anything, especially since the spot may have been purchased). Which was followed by reports that teen "influencers" were rolling in cash by taking pics of themselves with branded products (whatever happened to just showcasing an actual item!?). Then the Belfie (a.k.a. the "butt" selfie). And then came this -- the most ridiculous selfie trend to end all selfie trends: the picture one takes with a lover post-coitus. Yes, people have actually taken to sharing their conquest pics with the Internet. The hashtag? #AfterSex.

I realize I sound a bit like an old fogie with this kind of a rant, but, at the very least, I'm no longer alone.

There's now a Change.org petition (it was started by a Felicity Morse in the U.K.) to ban self-picturing. Morse's reasoning? "Oxford English Dictionary named the selfie as the 'word of the year' and like the opening of Pandora's box, the phenonemon has infected the entire interweb with its pernicious purposeless vanity." Everyone from E! Online to Jezebel are now rebelling against the poses people are using in pics.

And in response to the recent trend of the #NoMakeupSelfie, Amberly McAteer wrote a particularly compelling piece for The Globe & Mail. Her issue was partially with selfies themselves, but also with the way many organizations are manipulating their meaning.

Many people didn't realize the #NoMakeupSelfie trend was about raising funds for cancer research. People were too preoccupied sharing pictures of their makeupless selves to care.

To quote McAteer: "The implication of this trend, that makeup is a mask forced on women by society, hiding our true beauty, is #untrue. If the real you feels beautiful with lipstick, apply liberally, I say... The unspoken truth of selfies: you took seven photos of a near-identical pose, stuck your chin out a bit more, adjusted the lighting, then passed it off as natural."

Her point is fair -- and accurate. But since posting her piece, she's been the source of much ridicule; largely by people who love taking selfies. Their arguments are, among others, that the photos showcase peoples' good sides, they're fun and they make great default profile pictures.

I happen to agree with all of their points. These pics probably can help people show their best selves off to the world. (Even though it's definitely not normal to primp, pose or Photoshop yourself into a perfect pic.) The real problem is science seems to be discovering there are more negative implications to these images than any one of us realize.

Selfies have been linked to everything from despression to body dysmorphic disorder. The most damning evidence may come from a joint Today/AOL study that found:

-- 55 per cent of girls and 34 per cent of teen boys say "overall, social media makes me feel more self-conscious about my appearance."
-- 58 per cent of teen girls say "seeing pictures of other people living glamorous-looking lives on social media makes me feel bad about myself." Only 19 per cent of teen boys have the same reaction.
-- 30 per cent of all teens say social media means they always need to be "camera-ready.

Those are hardly facts that link selfies to being "healthy" or "good."

It's for many of the above reasons that writers are starting to take to the 'net to proclaim that the end of the selfie is nigh. 

EliteDaily.com's Connor Toole is one such person. He knows why seflies are popular: "People love attention, people like to look attractive, and people like looking at attractive people. These factors have all combined to contribute to the success of the seflie." 

But he also believes selfies are about to become a mockery of themselves. He uses examples like The Chainsmokers’ song “#Selfie” on YouTube, which people still, somehow, don't realize is a satire. The video was made using pictures people sent in to the site. The makers even discuss the issue of how people regularly buy followers on Instagram and Twitter to attract attention to their selfies from brands. (Are people that obsessed with getting free things!?)

As Toole points out, the selfie craze is unsustainable; the tipping point for the trend was, probably, any one of the things I've mentioned above. It's really only a matter of time before everyone gets sick and tired (like me, McAteer and Morse) of hearing the word, too.

We'll all soon enough move onto something else. 

What that will be, I don't know.

How this will affect the hundreds and thousands of blogs that solely involve people taking pics of themselves (without sharing any other insights with the world), I can't predict.

But I will, surely, be glad to see this social fad and phase end.

Blogs can be better than this. Instagram can be more informative. Websites can share the "news."

As Toole has said: "Selfies have peaked. Let’s find something else to beat to death."


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  • SarahK replied 2 years ago

    Hi Mvlina! Thanks so much for your comment and feedback. I totally hear everything you're saying. We wanted to open the topic up for debate, which we were hoping this piece would; it seems to have worked and I'm thrilled that you waded in with such a smart and succinct argument. Have a great one

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