A selfie is something, which is constantly parodied, used as a form of entertainment on one hand; on the other hand can be used to empower people within themselves. It’s not simply black and white, though. There are grey areas, many different meanings that people have behind a selfie – which is quite literally a photo of oneself – and why people may take them such as narcissism and self-esteem issues, and sometimes even to extremes or mentioning psychosis. In parodies and light humour regarding selfies such as the song ‘First let me take a selfie,’ or Kim Kardashian’s infamous book quite literally titled, “Selfie.”
So what is with the negative social stigma of selfies, if it can also be so light-hearted and a way to empower yourself, with people mocking those who use selfie sticks in public. Why is it that I feel as though I am being vain or should be cowering in shame if someone sees me taking a selfie, or editing a blemish out of one in public before I upload it online? There is no right way to judge selfie-takers intentions, but when it comes to some research you are in the wrong no matter what. You’re either narcissistic or mentally disordered – a far stretch for someone just wanting a nice photo of themselves.(Senft and Baym, 2015)
I have my Instagram feed posted to the right on my blog, for no particular reason other than to let readers know that I do have fun! I’m marketing myself to my audience with no other intention. Of course It won’t be seen like that by everyone, but marketing companies have long used phone photography and selfies as a way to market to young people. “Buy this phone, take a selfie! You will have fun!”(Gupta, 2017) I don’t see anything wrong with that, just like I see nothing wrong with the somewhat political view on selfies some celebrities have taken and how they can even influence election results through a selfie.
Maybe celebrities posting a selfie to Instagram on Election Day to say that ‘I voted!’ is empowerment in some way, but I definitely don’t take that to be narcissistic nor mentally unhinged as the intention there is clear; to raise awareness and encourage people to vote.(Saltz, 2014) I can’t precisely pinpoint the exact moment in my social-media life span where I decided, “I’m going to take a selfie.” Though I knew they were all the rage when I made my Myspace account, I knew I had to take one because everybody else was.
That’s the way I see selfies, people do what everyone else is doing whether it is consciously or not. If a celebrity like Kim Kardashian is showing resilience and ‘freeing the nipple,’ online other people will likely follow suit. This is where the hope that if other people have ‘voted!’ and posted about it online, once again; other people will too.(Croffey, 2017) Selfies can be a way to market anything, which is proven further by evidence that ‘Instafamous’ models are earning thousands a week by promoting a brand through their selfies to large followings.
Instagram and selfies go hand in hand to create a brand for someone, a self-marketing tool to the point where, if you ‘make it’ you are able to go on paid holidays, get free clothes and makeup and much more just by simply taking a selfie. People are marketing themselves online with hopes that people will want them to market for them. So do selfies really influence narcissism, maybe. Do only narcissistic people only take selfies? No, they can be taken by anyone for any purpose. Other social campaigns such as men taking a selfie with their fingers curled to say ‘it’s okay’ from the #itsokaytotalk campaign wasn’t used to empower, nor was it used for vain purposes but to raise awareness for a cause.
Mental illness, something that is accused as being one of the driving forces behind one taking a selfie – though this time being used to raise awareness for mental illness – ironic, no? There is indeed a moral panic when it comes to selfie taking, why though? How does selfie taking have to correlate with the negative moral panic of why a black man was president and a woman was prime minister, as though selfies are the cause of everything. (Senft and Baym, 2015) There are many good intentions within the means of taking a photograph of yourself – so why is there such a bad social stigma behind shaping yourself online and self-awareness, sometimes even promoting who you are and what you stand for through a selfie? (Wesch, 2009)
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