Is there a cure for the modern plague of the digital age?


Robert Gauthier

Ellen DeGeneres takes a selfie with attendees during the 86th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

by Olivia Goldstein, Editor

But first let me take a selfie.

I can’t go on any social media site without seeing arms outstretched, cheeks sucked in and coy smiles drowning my news feed. Yes, the selfie, the plague of the modern age. Even Pope Francis and President Obama have taken selfies!

There is no scientific reason why we find the need to post selfies. Many people say it’s for attention. Everyone wants to feel confident and receive positive attention, but is posting a filtered self-portrait making us even more self-conscious?

Are apps like Snapchat and Instagram breeding “selfie addicts?” According to many articles including one from MailOnline, British teen Danny Bowman became so obsessed with taking pictures of himself that he dropped out of school to devote 10 hours a day to taking the “perfect selfie.” Bowman suffers from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (excessive anxiety about one’s own appearance) which eventually led him to attempt suicide. Though this is an extreme case, with the rise of selfies and self-image issues, this generation may see more incidents like this in the future.

According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, one in three plastic surgeons has noticed an increase in nose procedures (10%), hair transplants (7%) and the ever cringe-worthy eyelid surgery (6%).  Botox and cosmetic surgeries have dramatically increased in people younger than 30 in 2013.

I’m guilty of taking my fair share of selfies, but I would never go so far as to change the way my face looks for a measly 40 likes.

If you search #selfie on Instagram, there are about 15 selfies uploaded per second. Really. I counted. According to Samsung, 30% of photos taken by people ages 18-24 are selfies.

Facebook is the number one selfie sharing website (48%), followed by texts (27%) and then Twitter (9%), according to Techinfographics.

DJ duo, The Chainsmokers, have even gone so far as to create a song about selfies. The parody song turned chart topper, #Selfie, has over 50 million views. Oxford Dictionary has even added it to the list and was word of the year in 2013!

Selfies are a symptom that our society has become a cult of narcissists. The drive for “likes” and “comments” is a shallow way to connect with the world.