Just when we think the selfie craze cannot possibly get crazier, we find out that there’s a new hangout for the selfie-obsessed: welcome to the selfie museum. Sadly, yes, there is a museum dedicated to selfies, because the world does not afford backdrops deemed interesting enough. Said museum is complete with every prop a selfie-lover could ever ask for: a blingy car, a stripper pole, and even a bathroom without a mirror, because, I mean, who needs one? That’s what apps are for. After all who cares how you really look, as long as you look good in the pic, amiright?
When selfie-mania first reared its photoshopped head, I presumed it would be like other pesky habits children develop and grow sick of soon enough. But this one no one seems to be growing out of. Everyone’s pouting, everyone’s clicking pics of themselves from flattering angles, passing them through filters, and posting them on every form of social media they’re on. Such is the desire for perfection, people are tweaking and modifying parts of themselves they didn’t even realise required tweaking and modification. For no one should miss the devastating impact of that pout, that outfit, those arms and those legs taken from the critical angle of two and a half feet above eye-level.
In addition to making us look taller, make our faces or noses appear slimmer, whiten teeth, brighten eyes, and basically turn us plain janes into supermodels – who are, just to be clear, plain janes themselves, the gazillion apps that cater to selfie-users also erase lines, which is why we are lucky to witness a plethora of Barbie dolls staring into the camera and smiling; beautiful women with all traces of wrinkles and hidden indiscretions washed out. In a word, boring.
It’s a little rich to presume everyone wants to see these images we take of ourselves, but that doesn’t stop us from posting them, for our desire for admiration is stronger than our common sense. Anyhow, now that they’re seemingly everywhere, we don’t give them much thought before skimming through them on to the next feed.
We may think of selfies as slightly self-obsessed, narcissistic, or vain, but rarely do we think of them as dangerous – which they can be. Over a hundred people have lost their lives in the quest of taking a perfect selfie. Did they really have to be in the same frame with that crocodile?
Then there’s the advent of the bothie phones – phones that allow you to take pics from the back and front at the same time, and present it to you in a single frame. The less said about this the better.
There have also been many instances of selfies gone wrong. The subject takes a selfie and posts it, and as a result of it being too provocative, revealing, or just unattractive, the taker is subject to merciless cyber-bullying and cyber-shaming, at times by total strangers, other times by friends in school. While adults may be able to take it in their stride, youngsters are not as thick-skinned, and often as the line between real-life bullying and cyber bullying gets blurred and hits closer home, stories of impressionable teens taking their lives become more and more common.
Although the general tendency is to think of selfie takers as narcissistic, this is not necessarily true. Selfie taking has become so ubiquitous and socially acceptable, and used in such varied contexts, unless the sole subject of the selfie is yourself and your pouting lips, they are not necessarily narcissistic. Many selfies, such as those taken at the gym, are taken by people to motivate themselves and others, and also as a way to document their progress. Similarly, selfies taken in front of monuments are just to serve as memories of a place visited. So while not all bad, the issue is when posting pics of oneself becomes an obsession, a mindless craving for attention and validation, as is the case with many a teenager.
Before you get swept away by the selfie tide, pause and consider this – everyone is too self-absorbed to do anything more than just send a vague glance the way of that selfie you’ve spent hours modifying. In the off-chance someone does spend a long time looking at your selfie, you can be sure they’re trying to find fault. Other than that, they’re busy counting the number of likes their own selfie has garnered.
Don’t let your self-esteem rest on the number of likes your selfie has received. You’re better than that.
And if it’s a case of boredom that causes you to turn the camera on yourself, might I suggest a book instead?
This article was also featured in The Hindu, on 17/6/2018