Why do we send selfies? And why do people ask for them in return? Is it plain and simply narcissism? A need for validation? Or do we genuinely think that's the best way to let people in on what's going on in our lives and how we're feeling when an emoji just won't do? I've been thinking about selfies. A lot. Mostly because I'm asked for them nearly daily from men who I'm currently dating, will eventually date or have just started talking to. With every request, I ask myself: why do people ask for pics, when the whole idea of these dating sites is to use profile pictures as a means of determining whether or not we are interested in dating that very person? These sites allow for anywhere from one to countless pictures, so why do we constantly need to send more? Here's what I've concluded.
1. Lies, All Lies: The very construct of the swipe style dating sites allows for people to lie. Lie about their appearance, lie about their age, lie about their weight, marital status, employment status, height, hair presence (or lack thereof) and on and on and on. The simplest explanation therefore, is that once we've connected with someone we're into, we want further photographic evidence that they are who they say they are. I've asked a ton of dudes about their experiences with dating (so for those haters who think I'm biased towards the female perspective, I promise -- I do my homework), and they say that the number one thing women lie about is their weight. Pics on sites are from years ago and don't necessarily represent how those women look currently. It's shallow, yes, but when you show up on a date, you expect to see the person who was displayed on the profile. Extra selfies are just an insurance policy.
2. Connect with me: I think most people would agree that the very nature of online dating lends itself to detachment. A person is a mere swipe among hundreds of other daily swipes so it's easy to dispose of matches. But, when the conversation switches to text, and people start trying to dive a bit deeper and connect with one another, sharing pictures (naughty and otherwise) is actually a way to get to know a person and to learn about them in a different context.
3. I'm bored: Sometimes, I think that selfie culture is a byproduct of boredom, plain and simple. I recently learned how to use snapchat for a work project. Now, at first, I wrote it off as a fairly silly platform and a waste of time to boot. But, as I played more, I found out that it's actually really fun. You can send snapshots of your life to all of your friends, and entertain yourself in the process. Who doesn't want their face transformed into a psychopathic bunny rabbit or to have their face swapped with a coworker? When I was stuck at work the other day at 8 o'clock at night and I sent a pic with the overlay of the time as I posed a sad, pouty face, it created texture and depth to an otherwise flat 'FML, stuck at work' text. It's fun and even kind of creative.
4. We're vain: I mentioned it above and I'll end this post on the fact that people take selfies because we think we look good. When someone asks for a pic on a day that I look crappy, I'll go back into my repository of other pictures to a day when my hair looked fab or I looked extra fit. Our culture focuses so much on appearance, we've entered into a time where it's kind of acceptable to say 'look at me, look at me.' So we send pics in the hopes that our love interests, friends, and admirers will agree.
After much thought, (and though I still hate it when men ask for a pre-date-pic), I'm finally starting to understand, and accept why they do. And the truth is, next time I'm asked for one, I'll indulge and send it over. And I may even like it.