They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in today’s social media obsessed world, is a picture just worth a thousand “likes”?
Instagram users such as Seaholm junior Suzanna Grindem, often post pictures of pets, food, or themselves- known as the “selfie”. You’ve seen them taken, and you’ve taken them, but the selfie is more than just a snapshot of your face.
According to Psychotherapist Judy Doyle, it got the name selfie because it’s all about oneself.
“It’s about attention, notice me,” Doyle said. “Having something to say and doing it visually. It screams notice me.”
In the recent New York Times article, “The Selfie, Myself” by Jenna Wortham, the evolution and purpose of the selfie were both defined and explored.
“It signals a new frontier in the evolution in social media,” Wortham said. “At times, it feels largely performative, another way to polish public-facing images of who we are, or who we’d like to appear to be.”
The article also expounded upon the psychological basis for which people are inclined to take selfies, as told by Clive Thompson- technology writer and author of the new book “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better.
“There is a primal human urge to stand outside of ourselves and look at ourselves,” Thompson said.
What is thought of as a mindless photograph of oneself actually has a hidden psychological basis.
“People are wrestling with how they appear to the rest of the world,” Thompson said.
“Taking a photograph is a way of trying to understand how people see you, who you are and what you look like, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Doyle agrees with Thompson but thinks there is a difference between taking one for fun and posting it.
“I think it’s a good thing to take pictures to see how other people see you. We’re social beings we need feedback.” Doyle said. “But maybe just me sticking my tongue out, I would wonder why am I posting that?”
Another thing to consider when posting selfies is how many people will actually see them.
“I’m not so sure people understand how many people see these posts, how far it goes,” Doyle said. “I think they just think the people they can see are their friends.”
Grindem, a frequent Instagram user, is a huge fan of the selfie.
When asked about her alleged “selfie addiction”, Grindem admitted it is a problem.
“When you’re like that one person who posts one every 20 minutes, like what is wrong with that person,” Grindem said, “I post them too much. Way too much. It’s unhealthy.”
Grindem stated she has a particular strategy for her selfies.
“Fifty percent solo, fifty percent with people, usually they’re by myself,” Grindem said, “but it’s still a selfie if it has other people.”
Grindem’s selfies typically bring in approximately 60 likes from her Instagram followers. When one of her selfies receives a like, Grindem stated it is “beautiful”.
“It is a form of pride,” Grindem said, “I think taking them is more for fun and posting them is like ‘whose going to think I’m pretty’.”
According to Doyle, there’s a chance that the picture you post won’t receive positive feedback.
“You’re also taking the risk that you’re going to get negative comments,” Doyle said. “So if you’re just putting it out there to get a lot of positives, that’s a little unrealistic.”
The positive reinforcement that comes from “likes” on a photo has it’s drawbacks; it makes for a deficit of genuine, face-to-face communication.
“We are swiftly becoming accustomed to- and perhaps even starting to prefer- online conversations and interactions that revolve around images and photos”
Doyle believes that people who post too much aren’t getting enough attention from the people in their life.
“What’s not happening in their real life and their close relationships that they’re not getting this satisfaction?” Doyle said. “That’s the sad thing is I think we’re missing the personal contact.”
According to Doyle, constant selfie posting may be a cry for help.
“So when somebody is posting pictures of themselves or on the different medias all the time that’s a sign to me they need to be seen and heard,” Doyle said. “They’re not getting it from family they’re not getting it from teachers they’re not getting it from friends.”