Whether you are on your casual morning jog, driving to work in a rush amid traffic, pushing your way through the queue at an eatery or enjoying a lazy weekend at a movie, at least one person around you is clicking a selfie, if not selfies. If your day ends without encountering a single selfie-clicking episode, either you were sleeping all day or were minding too much of your own business. That’s the kind of selfie-mania we are going through. Now that we have added selfies to our dictionaries already, is it time we add selfiemania too?
India ranks number one when it comes to accidents related to selfies. The country accounts for almost 60 per cent of the total selfie accidents that happen throughout the world. And yet, sadly, the fact isn’t enough to drive people away from this banefulness.
The obsession of clicking selfies is driven from one’s psychological condition, any deficits or surpluses of emotion. To understand why the millennials are going crazy about the front cameras of their phones, we talked to Dr JR Ram, Apollo Hospital, Kerala, Dr Vasantha R Patri, Chairperson, Psychologist, Indian Institute of Counselling and Nitika Kumar, a counselling psychologist and a research scholar at University of Delhi.
A classic study done by psychological researchers Mita, Dermer and Knight in 1977 suggested that when asked to chose between the two, people are more likely to chose and prefer their mirror image to their actual photographs. Further work says that this is so because in general people are more exposed to their mirror image, which means that they’re more likely to see themselves in the mirror on a daily basis rather than seeing their photos. This gives them a natural affinity to their mirror images.
“By extension of this line of thought, selfies are only an extension of their own mirror images and therefore, people like their selfies more than their usual photographs. Cut to today’s technology, clicking a selfie gives you more control over the kind of light, filters and other factors and the angle at which you wish yourself to be seen,” said Nitika.
“I have been there, I have done that” – The need to demonstrate
However, when it comes to driving to insane heights for a selfie that can be life-risking, it is about people trying to demonstrate a “face of themselves they wish to present to the world,” said Nitika. For Dr Vasantha, the primary reason of the rising selfie accidents in India is that people now want to show to the world that they have achieved a milestone that none or only a few others have achieved. People are constantly looking for appreciation from others, said Dr Ram. They demonstrate their accomplishments to look daring, bold and different and this in turn gets them attention. “The more daring your selfie is, the more likely you are to be noticed and appreciated by your peers. It’s a face that would give them instant approval of their peers,” said Nitika.
The looking-glass effect
Of course, demonstration serves them appreciation on the platter but among many other needs too. This will vary from person to person. How much he is affected by others’ opinion of him, how much getting more views and likes bother him and how negatively does he take disapproval reflect on how healthy a person is psychologically. Many among the ardent selfie-clickers are looking for the need to self-affirm. Dr Vasantha calls this the ‘looking-glass effect’. It means that you perceive of yourself what others perceive of you. This stems from a ‘sense of inadequacy’ in oneself, said Dr Vasantha. You want others to applaud you so that you can applaud yourself.
However, when we take into account doing daring deeds to showcase your bravado, Dr Vasantha feels that it is majorly due to the need to demonstrate than anything else.
Are we a narcissistic generation?
Narcissism can be four things: self-sufficiency, vanity, leadership and admiration demand. “The need to click selfies can arise from two extreme conditions of our minds, too much self-worth (vanity) or too low self-worth,” said Dr Ram. There is a bunch of selfie-clickers that thinks too highly of itself, and hence, showcases itself to the world. This group of people is indeed narcissistic. On the contrary, there is a bunch that is lacking in self-worth and need self-affirmation from the world. Only the latter bunch would drive itself to insane heights to gain an appreciation and hence, click selfies that can risk their lives, said Dr Vasantha.
Does more selfie-clicking stem from lesser human bonding?
For Nitika, yes. She said, “The present generation has insufficient means of forging human bonds. In most cases, both parents are working and children have learnt to manage a life by themselves. We live in an age where we talk more on the phone with distant people than the ones sitting next to us. Though it seems good and of course has its positive impact for us, there is a severe limitation of actual human empathetic interactions. We are now a generation obsessed with self-presentation on social media rather than actual character formation. Virtual reality has become more omnipresent and it gives us a good enough opportunity to have control over how others see us.”
The essential question
Do you think you are a selfie-addict or are bordering on the addiction? Do you know someone who is? Then ask this essential question – Why do you need to click selfies constantly? For Dr Ram, most of the selfie-clickers are hale and hearty if they do it once in a while. But for some, the once-in-a-while keeps getting more frequent till they click at least 10 selfies a day. That’s where you ask yourself that why you click so many of them. Is it a clamouring self-worth or a drowning self-esteem? The answer shall unlock what you need to do about your condition.