The bathroom mirror shot. The silhouette. The beach shot. The one where you try to make it look like someone else took it. How many Facebook ‘selfie’ photos do you post? And what do they say about your personality?
It’s closing in on a decade since Facebook changed our modern culture. We were swept up into the nonstop world of updates, profile pages, and deciding whether or not to air our relationship status for the whole world to see. And of course, arguably the most important aspect of Facebook: which pictures of ourselves we flaunt.
Our enthusiasm was warranted, initially. After all, in just a decade we went from a time when a phone was just that—a device to make phone calls with—to it becoming a tool that allows us to read books, make videos and find the closest Hooters location, as well as the occasional, but now less necessary, phone call. And its most seemingly vital function: the Facebook tether.
That’s progress all right, and it’s made us all a little giddy. It is nice to skim through pics of old classmates and family members you haven’t seen in years. But has Facebook (and other social networks) made us all narcissists? Or is our obsession with the selfie photo just a passing phase as we adjust to living out loud via social media?
The long-range effects of social media are still yet to be determined. But one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be quite a ride. In the meantime, though, what exactly does the selfie pic say about you? Any of these ring true?
- You’re kind of a loser: According to a recent study out of the U.K., “oversharing” of Facebook selfies could actually damage your relationships in the real-world, the Huffington Post reports. “[B]oth excessive photo sharing and sharing photos of a certain type makes almost everyone like you less.”
- Most people don’t relate to you: The researchers found that aside from your very close friends and relatives, excessive photo sharing, particularly of your own face, isn’t relatable for most people. “Increased frequency of sharing photographs of the self, regardless of the type of target sharing the photographs, is related to a decrease in intimacy,” the researchers noted in the study. The excessive amount of photos of yourself make it awkward for people who don’t actually know you all that well—and most Facebook users have a significant amount of “friends” who are, more or less, not really friends.
- You’re desperately insecure: Building a reputation (with strangers and the closest of friends) is what most people taking the selfie photos are after—the (perceived) intimacy, the cloying compliments, the appearance of themselves they want to put forth in the world—drive the need to be seen. But it also makes it obvious to everyone else just how needy you are.
- You’re a narcissist: The insecurities, body image issues and the increasingly more detrimental condition of Facebook jealousy, makes us look at someone else’s selfie and assume they have a better life than we do. But since that reality’s too difficult for most people to accept, they instead focus on how awesome they are and the narcissist spiral sucks them in. They begin to find every little thing they do valuable to their online community, oversharing updates and pics.
- You’re lonely: Loneliness will make us do weird things, and the obsession with Facebook selfies is a bit like adjusting your outfit or hair half a dozen times while you sit alone at a bar trying not to look lonely. Subtly or not, people pick up on the vibe and it can be a turn off as the line between loneliness and desperation is incredibly thin.
- You’re drunk: Drunk people do stupid things in the real world and often even far dumber moves on Facebook. Then, one of the other more common justifications sink in the next day…the narcissism, the loneliness, etc, and folks justify keeping the drunken images up, or opt for new ones altogether.
- You’re neurotic: Some people obsessively post the Facebook selfie pics simply because they’re neurotic. Is this pic better? What about this pic? I haven’t changed my pics in a while, is that bad? There’s a reason Woody Allen makes movies and stays out of the public eye the rest of the time. Neuroses are annoying, even when you can simply scroll right past them.
So, what’s a healthy balance?
Of course we should share fun times and great photos whenever we feel like it. Not every selfie image is going to mean something is wrong with you. But try to recognize when you’re ‘oversharing’ versus legitimately changing your profile pic or sharing a photo of you with President Obama. Be judicious. And most of all, be present in the real world. Sometimes, an experience is most rewarding when you’re just fully immersed in it, not trying to capture it for someone else to see.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Image: Grace ODA