The Selfie Obsession – What’s Really Behind It

Many of us look at the number of selfies people post online and think “narcissist”. But is there more to it than that? Our online personas are the faces we wish to present to the world. It’s both who we are and who we strive to be wrapped into one. 

With the help of newer technologies, the view we present may or may not be the whole truth. Filters and Photoshop can do a great deal to alter the final image.

The question becomes, why are we doing this and why can’t we just be happy with ourselves as is?

The answer is perception.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We have all heard that time old phrase but how true is it really?

Have you ever wondered what our brains see and if what one brain sees is the same as the next? My best guess is that indeed we do see things just a bit differently from each other. 

In the past, we have relied on others to take photos of us. Cameras just weren’t built for aiming towards yourself. They were too big and too bulky. Because of this we were always only presented through the perspective of the photographer.

This varied perspective is part of why we may love one photographer’s work and not so much another. Composition, lighting, angle, and personal view all come together to make the finished image. 

With the invention of smaller handheld phone cameras – came the selfie. I believe why this has become such an enormous trend is not just convenience but the ability to be the photographer. To capture what you see as your true best self. Selfies are the view you want the world to have of you. So when you are happy with the result you are proud to show it off.

***There is some kind of odd phenomenon that happens in photography. Many people will look at an image and say “That’s me?” as if they don’t recognize themselves. Somehow they get so hooked and focused on flaws that they don’t see their beauty until presented third person.
The same happens in voice recording. Your own voice will not sound like you (at least not to you).

Add to that the magic of filters and you can be thinner, have better skin, change your eye color, and do wondrous things. I have done magazine and editorial photo editing. It isn’t a pretty thing to see some of the before and after images. We smooth every line, wrinkle, freckle, birthmark, heck even the model’s armpits are touched up beyond recognition half the time. Necks are lengthened, shortened, and the same with legs and waists. These models are beautiful to start with, yet somehow as an advertiser in society, we wash away on purpose what makes them – them.

It’s no wonder the public has followed suit. 

I don’t believe selfies are so much about vanity as they are the ability to try and control how the world sees you, as well as how you perceive yourself so that it matches up with how you view yourself in your mind’s eye.

Removed from Reality

The fascination we, as a society, have with observing other peoples lives from the sidelines has gone from merely entertainment to crossing the line of dangerous passivity.

Reality TV has given us all a voyeuristic window into the lives of others that has never been had in the past. There have always been nosy neighbors and gossips but now you don’t even have to get together with your friends, or even go out of your house. Just flip on the little box in your bedroom, living room, TV room, even bathroom and you can see in full color the drama and strife of other peoples daily lives.

No more need for writers, actors or even talented people at all. The only qualification seems to be vanity, a need for attention and to be vaguely attractive. Are you a total hot mess with a seriously screwed up life? Great! Video yourself, upload and apply! We can make you famous!

This is blurring the lines of reality.

What’s right?

What’s wrong?

What’s acceptable?

What’s sociopathic?

Apparently all of it and all the better if you happen to be able to capture someone doing something on your phone so you TOO can profit from it, whether it be monetarily or through the second hand attention of “likes” and praise online with YouTube or social media.

When did it become funny to watch people hurt themselves over and over and over again?

How many people can hit themselves in the balls with a bat, a golf club, a basket ball before you lose interest? Apparently for most of you the amusement goes on and on…

Yet I bet if it was you? You wouldn’t think it was so funny.

I have seen numerous videos online lately of incidences where someone is being harassed, hurt, injured or worse and what do the by standers do?
Live up to the name. They do nothing but stand by and film.

-Crowds of people gathered around young kids while others beat them, no one steps in to help.

-Adults throw temper tantrums at fast food restaurants, screaming obscenities at the workers – no one opens their mouths to try and get them to either calm down or leave, they just whip out their phones and record the abuse.

-In the Knockout Game, random strangers are simply hit out of no where. There are almost always several other people in the videos who again, just stand there. They don’t say a word, they don’t yell at the attacker, they don’t make any move to go after him and rarely do you even see them grab their phone to call for help.

-Police step over the line in arrests brutalizing citizens who are already down on the ground and compliant. Their friends just film.

While I do understand the natural inclination is to not want to be involved in a fight, you really need to consider – What if it was you?

Would you hope your friends, your family, a caring stranger, anyone would step in? Do something, say something, … ANYTHING?

I certainly would appreciate it.

I don’t advocate jumping right in to a fight if you are not trained.

What I am saying is speak up! Use your voice. Grab their arm. Make SOME  attempt to slow them down, insert a little reason in to the scene. Don’t just passively sit there and watch it happen. If you do, you BECOME part of the problem.

Let me say this as clearly as possible.


THIS IS NOT TV.



We are quickly losing our humanity.