Social Media: Addicted to Selfies?

Have I ever taken a selfie? Yes.

Have I ever taken a selfie and posted it on social media? Yes. 

Do I post them in hopes that people will like it/comment? Absolutely!

Like most people in the 21st century right now, I am addicted to social media, and have jumped on the selfie bandwagon.

Studies have shown that social media addictions are real – social media is a habit forming activity. Social media addictions have been linked to anxiety, stress disorders, narcissism and low self esteem. When we are bored, we check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or (Insert your vice). When we are stressed… we check social media. Almost all forms of social media have a rating button, where other users can either like (uprate), not do anything, or downrate your posts. That, the rating system, is wherein the problem lies for people that constantly post selfies.

There was an article published March 23, 2014, on the first documented Selfie Addict in the UK; and this is what motivated me to talk about this issue.

Danny Bowman, 19, would take over 200 selfies a day, with the hopes of taking the “perfect” selfie. Bowman lost 28 lbs (or about 12 kg), dropped out of school and did not leave his home for 6 months – all in the pursuit of the perfect selfie. When he could not take the perfect selfie, he attempted suicide through overdosing.

His addiction to selfies was so extreme that he started to display symptoms similar to substance abuse, as defined by the DSM-IV:

Substance abuse, as defined by the DSM-IV, involves a maladaptive pattern of substance use resulting in significant negative physical, social, interpersonal or legal consequences. Unlike substance dependence, the criteria for abuse do not include tolerance, withdrawal or a pattern of compulsive or uncontrolled use.
  • physical – weight loss
  • social/interpersonal – dropped out of school, social reclusion
  • legal – attempted suicide

Bowman says: “People would comment on [my selfies], but children can be cruel. One told me my nose was too big for my face and another picked on my skin. I started taking more and more to try to get the approval of my friends … I would be so high when someone wrote something nice but gutted when they wrote something unkind.”

People who post selfies constantly typically have lower self-esteem, compulsive behaviours, narcissistic tendencies and higher levels of anxiety and stress.  Narcissism causes people to want to post more selfies – to seek that validation from others, but the low-self esteem prevents people from being able to properly deal with the negative comment or the lack of “likes”. There have also been reports that people who are addicted to selfies typically have some form of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), and use selfies as an outlet for validation on their body.

There are tons and tons of studies and news articles coming out in light of Bowman’s incident – all reiterating the fact that selfies will do more harm than good; they are an outlet for people with low self-esteem, narcissism and/or BDD.

If you find you have a slight addiction to selfies, maybe try making a reward/punishment system for yourself? (example: for every selfie you take and post online, you have to donate $x to a local charity?)

If you find that you have a serious selfie addiction, I really do recommend talking to someone about it, and maybe seeking professional help if there is an underlying cause.

 They made me scruff up my hair and walk down the street
without my phone and no way to see what I looked like.
Gradually I realised everyone wasn’t looking at me.
I didn’t need to check my appearance the whole time.
– Danny Bowman


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