There’s at least one on every list of friends: the person who takes a million selfies and plasters them all over social media.
I particularly remember the day it occurred to me that all of these selfies I was seeing were not a sign of my friends being vain and self-absorbed.
These selfies were their cry for acceptance. A dangerous cycle of attention and approval that, as a society, we are endorsing and residing in.
This particular epiphany came about after scrolling through social media one typical morning before heading out to run errands. My dear selfie-loving friend, of course, had images that morning all set to run errands herself.
She always looks cute, well taken care of—and here I am, a hot mess.
Fast forward a couple of hours, I saw the selfie queen actually in a store, but when I saw her, something was off. I couldn’t put my finger on it right away.
We exchanged pleasantries and went about our different directions. It was when I got to my car that it struck me: she looked different. The outfit was the same, but something was different.
I quickly flipped back to her social media page to look at her selfies.
That’s what it was—the person I saw in the store had a noticeable scar right on the bridge of the nose extending below the eye. The person in the selfies didn’t have that. In fact, the person in the selfies had fuller eyelashes and higher cheekbones, too.
The picture I was looking at had a ton of likes. A few of the comments of “You’re so beautiful” and “Gorgeous” were responded back with, “Thanks, but just a mess today” and other little quips about leaving the house on the fly, even one comment referring to it as a scuzzy run attempting to suggest, I can only guess, that she didn’t do anything and just ran out the door.
As if the filtered image I was staring at was her norm. All of it was a façade, a complete illusion. None of it was real. It was all filters and photoshop.
Personally, I am not a selfie-taker, so I didn’t realize all of the filters and editing tools available for people and their amped-up selfies. This was something that really grabbed my interest—I did research because I had to understand more.
I stumbled upon the term “Selfitis,” which 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.”
This article went on to explain that the likes and comments received from such selfies give the person a dopamine high. Thus continuing a cycle of posting more pictures to continue the rush.
This might seem harmless, and you might be asking yourself why I even care about another person posting edited selfies on their social media.
Well, it’s simple…I have a daughter who is going to be a teenager really soon. So I asked myself:
What happens if my daughter sees all these other girls her age looking perfect in their selfies?
What is that going to do to her self-esteem? Is she going to try to make herself look the same?
What about if a person takes nothing but filtered selfies and then they have to look in the mirror? Are they going to be disappointed?
What kind of outcomes could come from this?
At what point is the constant augmenting of reality and how it is portrayed going to hurt not only our children and their self-esteem, but us and ours?
I was guilty of looking at the pictures of my friend with envy. Not once did it cross my mind that they were all augmented.
I will admit that there were times that I, myself, felt inferior. I am in my 40s and confident in who I am. Yet, the compliments she received had me wishing someone would give me that type of attention when I posted pictures. I craved that acceptance-high as well.
We all want to hear things that make us happy, right?
I was thinking about young children with underdeveloped personalities dealing with not only trying to figure out who they are but having to weed through augmented versions of people and deciphering reality from the façade—that has got to be tough.
I am scared for my daughter to go through her teen years at this time in our culture.
I want her to appreciate and be proud of her natural self. I don’t want her to ever have to feel she has to filter the best parts that make her who she is to fit into a societal standard image that we are creating.
I don’t want her to get her worth by the number of likes and comments from an image uploaded onto social media. I want her to know she is worth more than a like button, and she is beautiful enough the way she is. There isn’t any need to use a filter to change her appearance.
I don’t want my daughter to be a victim of “Selfitis.”