Is it Just a Selfie?

Recall the moment when you have a smartphone and holding it only a few inches away from your face. Now, you are exploring different angles and searching for the best lighting possible, even if it means climbing onto the kitchen counter or running after the sun's natural light. Finally, after taking a "reasonable" number of photos, you have to take on a tedious task, deciding which photo did and did not make the cut. To most young people in this generation, this is a process by which one concludes to the "perfect" selfie. The definition of a selfie, which simply is to take a picture of oneself, is figuratively changing, especially when the image should be perceived as the "perfect selfie" to oneself among others.

This so-called "perfect selfie" is being influenced by the society's approval based upon the varying factors such as social status and physical appearance, as well as one's lifestyle. So the question is, "Is it just a selfie or is it that this generation is becoming too self-absorbed or addicted to even realize it is not about the picture anymore?"

Today's technology is advancing more than ever with the latest gadgets and along with them, there are different forms of social media, such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. They all have something in common and that is the promotion of taking pictures, especially a selfie. Nowadays, many people especially teens, are becoming too concerned about the pictures they post on social media. Constantly waiting for a "like," which is a form of validation from another person, silently declares that their picture is perfect. According to Pew Research Center, 91% of teens post themselves using social media. Research has shown that this constant need for approval can negatively impact a person's health.

According to an interview with Bangkok Post, Dr. Panpimol Wipulakorn, a government psychiatrist, states, "If they feel they don't get enough likes for their selfie as expected, they decide to post another, but still do not receive a good response. This could affect their thoughts. They can lose self-confidence and have a negative attitude toward themselves, such as feeling dissatisfied with themselves or their body."

Many teens and young adults, like me, using social media as a great form of communication and connection allows us to see what fun activities friends and family members are apart of. However, many young people use this as a tool to promote their pictures in order to gain a greater number of likes and followers, why? What would this achieve? Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter encourage the use of statistics to determine how popular a photo or person is. Famous celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Beyonce have over 100 million followers combined due to their hefty fan base. On the other hand, there is an easier way for a person to gain followers. Some of the ways in which a person is able to gain followers and likes include: requesting shoutouts from another social media user, posting a picture stating, " Like 3 of and comment on 1 of my photos for a good morning post" or "Like all my posts and I'll do the same". All these strategies to gain likes and followers only leads a person to take more selfies and pictures leaving our generation not understanding the genuine meaning of social media, which in all means is to communicate.

Former Australian Model Essena O'Neill posted a video explaining to her fans, that the social media we use today changed her in a way she regrets. Essena O'Neill explains that she had to hide her emotions and become untruthful when posting pictures to the public eye.

O'Neill states, "I spent [ages] 12 to 16 wishing I was that perfect person online. Then I spent [ages] 16 to 18 proving my life on social media, perfecting myself enough to be that person. Everything I did in a day was to be that perfect person online... I did everything in my power to prove to the world that 'Hey! I'm important, I'm beautiful and I'm cool.' But is making your whole day proving to everyone else that you're amazing, is that life? Proving yourself online? Taking pictures just in hope to get likes and compliments?"

O'Neill explains how the changed concept of the selfie and social media altered her life. The desire to satisfy others by staging moments in life that are not true to oneself can lead to living a lie. As can be seen, O'Neill missed out on knowing herself and delaying a chance to find out who she really is as a person.

The concept of the selfie is changing. Nowadays, societal pressure and social validation linger behind the selfie, influencing many individuals in our generation to utilize strategies that will benefit others' perspectives of them. The selfie is simply a photo, yet perceived as the key to acceptance. Therefore, can a person feel free to take a selfie without focusing on the rest of the world's response? Will the selfie still be defined as any other photo an individual takes? Given these points, is it just a selfie?