The Selfie Craze Case

DSC_0159An article at the reported that the American Psychiatric Association has made it official that taking selfies is a mental disorder. The disorder is called selfitis, and is defined as the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.

APA said there are three levels of the disorder:
Borderline selfitis : taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day but not posting them on social media
Acute selfitis: taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day and posting each of the photos on social media
Chronic selfitis: Uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock and posting the photos on social media more than six times a day

However, I have not found any news from the APA to confirm this claim. It could be just a way for them to drive traffic into their site. There are also several websites that tell it’s a hoax. True or not, it’s an interesting and a bit alarming thought that we need to take a close look at. Last 2013, Oxford Dictionaries announces “selfie” as their international Word of the Year. Last night, showed about 51 million results when I typed selfie in its searchbox.

Taking selfies is fun and enjoyable. It’s a good way to chronicle what we’ve been through the day and/or to inform our friends how happy or sad we are. Selfies can be a picture of the whole face or may include half of the body with a famous landmark in the backdrop. Besides self-portraits, even the food we’re about to eat and the emptied plates doesn’t escape our selfie craze. While taking selfie might seem to originate from a positive intention, these questions must be asked in order to clarify our motive:

1. Are you happier or do you feel better when someone or many have liked or have commented on your post?
2. Do you visit your post from time to time and/or wait every hour if someone liked or have commented on your post?
3. Do you only take a selfie and post them when you think you look good? Do you fix your hair first, clean your face and take selfies several times until you luckily take your best look?

Many authors have already written articles associating taking selfies with Narcissism. In wikipedia, narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride. The term originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. In the same source, it listed that self-focus is one of its traits and signs.

An individual’s desire to highly set itself above others is not new. In the Bible, the disobedience of Eve rooted from her desire to make herself as knowledgeable as God. She sinned because she focused on herself. Way before the earth’s fall, Satan who was Lucifer then, rebelled against God in his desire to become the ruler of himself. He fell because he focused on himself.

Ken Myers, host of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal, shares that, “the reigning belief of modern culture is that each individual is the sovereign maker of meaning.”

Humans seem to have inherited this trait to be the master of their own selves.

Myers further shared that, “Where premodern cultures assumed a Creator and Governor who established cosmic order to which human societies and individuals must conform, modern culture denies the existence of such an order and encourages each individual to assert his or her own order”.

In one of the subjects I took, I have observed that throughout our class discussions on the different aspects of marketing, the focus to self was a widespread end of every proposition. Seemingly, this concept has driven businesses and marketing objectives all along. Satisfying people’s self-focused needs became the goal to target. As self-image became a prevalent concern in the daily life of individuals, products and services became more focused on improving, developing and feeding that self-image. Subtly and maybe unconsciously, people are falling into that trap.

There is no attempt here to stereotype people who love taking self-portraits, though they have already been standardized and even categorized by some institutions and individuals. However, this is an attempt to warn and to assess our true intentions in participating the selfie craze. When we post a selfie, we are sending a message. It is a message that is centered about the greatness of ourselves. We like to look at it and want others to love it.

From comments heard and answers gathered, taking selfies and posting them publicly on social networks may be due to the following:
1. Show your confidence
2. Inform how you’re doing
3. Brag
4. Affirm yourself
5. Gather comments
6. Stir up envy
7. No reason at all
8. Has become a habit where most of the times is done with little consciousness.

A person who is truly happy, successful and contented do not need to prove it. Others just inadvertently notice him. He doesn’t give any hint and not make efforts inorder to be observed. He is appreciated at the time he didn’t expect and honored without his awareness. He just goes on being himself and does not display so as to exalt himself above others.

The apostle Paul in Romans 12 talked about not conforming to the pattern of this world, and in the next verse warns us to not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. Similarly, In the first few verses of Philippians 2, the MSG translation says to;

  • Don’t push your way to the front;
  • Don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.
  • Put yourself aside.
  • Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage and
  • Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

These verses obviously tells us to not think mostly about our own interest and not be obsessed in looking at ourselves in the mirror.

Valuing ourselves highly is a healthy thing to do. We need to have a positive value of ourselves and be proud about it. Self-esteem is important and is a prerequisite to confidence, a confidence that each person must develop in him as he faces life’s challenges. There is a limit however as to how much self-portrayal we must make. In an article I’ve read somewhere, it says that the social media has made a way for people to connect in an incredible way; however it has lately shifted instead into connecting more to one’s self. I think that taking selfies is not necessary. It is better to take photos of others or other things that will inspire others who see it.


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