Since the first self-portrait photograph taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839, society has been engrossed in visual representations of themselves. Fast-forward to 2013 when the term ‘Selfie’ was coined, and we are able to notice an explicit shift from the focus of a self-portrait being artistic, to the focus of a self-portrait (or ‘Selfie) being aesthetic. People are able to take self-portraits of themselves at the literal tap of a button; it is now effortless and accessible to everybody.
Additionally, with the boom of social media, people are able to present themselves in a virtual world exactly how they would like to be presented. They are able to choose the best photos of themselves and portray a particular aesthetic to the world and, subsequently, run the risk of dissociating themselves from reality. So, in a society where everyone is becoming more and more obsessed with themselves, what are the psychological repercussions?
It was previously thought that an increase in the amount of selfies taken would have a strong correlation to the increasing vanity of women over time – however, this is not the case. Adversely, there has been a remarkable find in regards to the amount of selfies taken and psychopathic qualities in men – oops, better check my camera roll.
It has been reported that men who take and post more selfies show strong links with psychopathic disorders and self-objectification – in particular, three conditions known as the ‘Dark Triad’ which consist of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy. Self-objectification is described as one assessing their self-worth based on their appearance. This is becoming increasingly more prominent with males mainly due to the portrayal of the male physique in the media – usually tall, toned and muscular (think Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Cooper, and Danny DeVito).
Okay, maybe not DeVito.
This may not seem to be news to anyone, but the issues that coincide with an increasing amount of self-objectification are certainly overlooked. The relationship between self-objectification and the increasing amount of eating disorders, depression and anxiety are becoming prevalent within males in contemporary society.
Observation becomes a dark reality! Better watch those mugs boys.
Incidentally, women have shown to have a weaker relationship between psychopathic disorders and the amount of selfies taken. In fact, women have used the selfie as a way to battle mental illnesses – claiming the selfie as part of the feminist movement, pivotal to the societal values of today.
In a combat against traditional gender roles, sexual identity, and general heteronormativity, women have used the selfie to connect to each other and show support. With a message of self-love and self-acceptance, the #365feministselfie movement was launched in 2014 with the aim to reveal to all others, the reality of life as a woman, rather than just highly edited, aesthetically pleasing photos of themselves.
Generally speaking, when taking these factors into account, there seems to be a rather large division between men and women in regards to the progression in combating conditions such as narcissism and self-objectification. Ideally, this divide should not exist in contemporary society.
Female gender politics and movements are far more advanced than male gender politics. This is perhaps through the lack of conversation about it. In a time of sexual and gender liberation, why are men still afraid to talk about masculinity, and femininity, and what it really means?
In conclusion, I guess the selfie ain’t such a bad thing after all – if used in the right way.
Why don’t we all just take photos of our pets instead? At least then we won’t have the selfie pressing on our psychopathy and influencing our social footprint.