Selfie Syndrome


So as you might already have heard (as it’s been repeated several times via various media outlets), ‘selfie’ was the Oxford Dictionary 2013 word of the year. Now I’m sure there are some literary snobs who are appalled at the fact that such common parlance has managed to wheedle its way into the pages of the guardian of the English language, almost like a chav sneaking into Buckingham Palace. I happen to think that, just like chavs in Bucky-P, it’s a welcome addition, and shows that language isn’t full of fixed boundaries but instead changes as time goes on. But enough of my uninformed ramblings on linguistics – about this selfie thing..

I’ll be open and honest from the jump -I’m not a fan of selfies. Tres hypocritical, considering I take a fair amount of them, although I rarely post them on social networking sites. I have a love hate relationship with selfies because the narcissistic, vain side of me loves them, and the better (I think) part of me hates myself for being narcissistic and vain. Take Instagram for example. I had Instagram for about two weeks, until I realised that for me, it basically consisted of contorting myself into odd shapes in my bedroom in an attempt to make the most of the light from the cruddy energy saving bulb my cheapskate landlord installed, in order to get a decent picture of myself. Not too much light, obviously, because a bit of dimness goes a long way towards hiding acne scarring –  as any selfie aficionado will know. There I was,looking like a complete noob, stooped behind my chest of drawers like a character from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (crouching and hidden), to get a perfect ray of light against a white background. Then I would post the picture on Instagram and feel a bit better about my hair, face, blackhead etc because 19 of my friends had pressed the little heart button, yay! I hear your protests- maybe the majority of the selfie taking population isn’t as utterly strange and teetering on the same edge of mental instability as I am, and don’t need to take the drastic measures I did (deleting Instagram), but I do think selfie syndrome is becoming a genuine pathology amongst  under 40’s.

You may have selfie syndrome if:

1) You take severals selfies over a significantly tiny portion of time.

I know scientists claim that we’re evolving, but I promise you your face is NOT changing at a rate that necessitates you documenting it every 3 minutes. Every selfie taken within 3 minutes of another selfie kills a bee. And in England, they’re nearly extinct. Now you know why.

2) You find yourself taking selfies in places that would usually be deemed strange/ unacceptable for public visual consumption.

Selfies on the loo, selfies in the intensive care unit, selfies at funerals, post-arrest selfies -these are all cause for concern. In defence of Obama, the Danish Prime Minister and oddly, David Cameron,  I would however, like to make the distinction between memorial services and funerals.

3)You put yourself in danger or potential danger to take a selfie.

Driving selfies=stupid. Plus, if you get in a car accident before you capture the shot, every selfie thereafter may well document the fact that your new facial deformity was as a result of your utter tomfoolery.

4) You do your hair or makeup solely for the purpose of taking a selfie.

I have never done this. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has though, and you know who you are. I’m not judging you, I’m the selfie doctor here to describe your symptoms so you can seek help.

5) You’re late for relatively important events because you’re trying to get the perfect selfie.

Arriving to dates 5 minutes late because you wanted to ‘selfie’ (see, this is new, I’m turning into a verb. Copyrighted by me.) your hair or makeup is unacceptable. Tsk, tsk – when rude met ruder and introduced himself to narcissist. Being late however, due to the same congenital disorder I suffer from (C.T.D, Congenital Tardiness Disorder), is completely understandable and you have my utmost empathy.

Seriously though, I think that selfies are definitely a symptom of the increasing anxiety we have over physical appearance. The onslaught of media images that encourage us to place outer beauty as an all important but ultimately attainable goal, are problematic for everyone, in my opinion. We take endless pictures of ourselves, almost in an attempt to out beautify the last selfie, or someone else’s selfie. Possibly, it’s not even about looking better it’s just a self centredness that is focused on the fact that we know we look good, and therefore feel a need to share this fact with other people. On the other hand, some people argue that selfies are almost a way of us claiming back beauty for ‘normal’ people. A girl can take a good selfie, post it on Facebook or Instagram,  have it shared by thousands of people, and feel a bit of a self esteem boost despite the fact she isn’t Beyonce or Kim Kardashian. It makes the average girl from Haringey feel empowered when, via social media, she can feel a tiny bit of the fame and adulation of your average celebrity. Kids are naturally intrigued by their own faces, and maybe selfies are just a part of that childlike fascination we have with our own likeness…

What do you guys think? Am I overanalysing what is a pretty much just people taking pictures of their face? Or is selfie syndrome real?


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