A friend of mine from London is currently researching the impact of selfie photography on our behavior and asked me to participate. It was interesting to respond to her question but also consider what really is the impact of selfies on our lives. This line of research is not so new. There was a really good study published online back in 2014 and UWE in Bristol also work on it in their Centre of Appearance Research studies. Most of the findings I come across online indicate what the social media specialists would assume: the social media posts of our own image, selfies, tend to broaden, magnify and validate the initial feelings we have towards ourselves. So if we have negative feelings, we might experience even lower moods in reaction to comments on our selfie’s. If we are fairly confident, the online comments will boost that confidence more. Some studies, however, do show that posting selfies online tends to increase our confidence, even if our self-esteem levels are low. So yes, as a result of that, some people might fall into the trap of narcissism, but I am personally really fed up with media blowing out of proportions the negative consequences, instead of focusing on a balanced view (both positive and negative impact of selfies). I am saying this, because an average reader of major media outlets won’t even bother googling the studies, but will shape very uninformed options about this topic.
In the UK there’s also a very dangerous habit of basing one’s opinions on that person’s pure experience, which obviously is not enough to back up a point in a conversation. So yes, I could say that I feel much better about myself if I post a selfie (I actually do!) and it took me a while to get used to that feeling. But I am not going to base my opinion on the value of selfies for my future clients purely on that very subjective experience. Which is why I am glad I could participate in my friend’s study and I hope that we will see many more. It’s still a new area and technology is changing so fast. We cannot change that. We can, however, change the sentiment of our discussions from demonising towards more balanced, informed ones.