Selfie epidemic: empowering or toxic?


BEN OLSEN | Scroll Illustration

Starbucks uses 93 million gallons of milk each year, Earth’s orbit around the sun is 93 million miles and at least 93 million selfies are taken every day.

At the end of 2013, there are approximately 7.125 billion people on earth. With 93 million selfies per day, that is approximately 76 selfies per person per day.

Selfies have become commonplace in our daily lives, but have selfies caused us to forget who we really are?

A 7.9 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal, April 26. The death toll is now over 5,200 and is continuing to rise. In Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, one of the country’s most historic monuments, the Dharahara Tower, was reduced from a nine-story tower to a pile of red dust.

Pawan Thapa, a 21-year Nepalese man, traveled to the city to help in the recovery efforts, but what he saw when he arrived sickened him.

He saw Nepalese people posing in the rubble and destruction and taking selfies.

“This is earthquake tourism,” Thapa said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “This is not right. They are more interested in clicking their selfies than understanding that it is a tragedy.”

At this point, it is unknown how many people were inside the Dharahara Tower when the earthquake hit, but it is expected that it was filled with tourists.

Selfies might not be the cause of our nation’s problems, but they might soon grow to become our nation’s problem.

Justin Crowe and Aric Snee, two modern artists, might have created the next big thing in the selfie game: the selfie arm; a skin-toned fiberglass arm with a realistic hand on one end and a phone holder on the other.

“The sarcastic solution to a quintessential problem — nobody wants to look alone while they mindlessly snap pictures of themselves — the product conveniently provides you a welcoming arm,” according to Crowe’s website. And better yet, it doesn’t talk or have emotions of any sort.”

Crowe and Snee have created ten limited-edition selfie arms — signed by them — and they are available for purchase for the affordable price of $6,200.

On average, women ages 16-25 will spend 16 minutes on each selfie session, they will have an average of three selfie sessions per day and they will take an average of seven selfies before finding the right photo. When added up, these women are spending over five hours per week taking selfies, according to The Daily Mail.

A recent study conducted by Ohio State University concluded that men who take more selfies are more likely to be narcissists or psychopaths and to struggle with self-objectification.

“We know that self-objectification leads to a lot of terrible things, like depression and eating disorders in women,” said Jesse Fox, an assistant professor of communication at OSU and the lead author of the study. “With the growing use of social networks, everyone is more concerned with their appearance. That means self-objectification may become a bigger problem for men as well as for women.”

We are in the middle of an epidemic, of which the effects are visible across the globe today, and one of the main symptoms might be selfies. Now, selfies are not inherently bad. A selfie can be an outlet to express how we feel.

“Some think it’s turning us into a nation of narcissists, but psychologists say that in moderation, selfies are a feel-good and often creative way, particularly for teens, to chronicle their lives and emotions and express their personalities,” according to an article in The San Jose Mercury News. “And people who post selfies assert that they can have an effect on their moods and self-esteem.”

A selfie can be empowering. They can inspire men and women to be their best, but a selfie can also be a source of selfishness and ignorance. During a report covering the riots in Baltimore, a CNN camera captured two rioters approaching a destroyed police car.

“Just look at how that vehicle has been trashed,” the CNN commentator said. “And just look … this guy is taking a picture of somebody in front of that police vehicle — to the side of the police vehicle — they are just having a good time out there right now… Right now they are taking selfies and taking pictures.”

Tom Fuentes, another CNN commentator, then said it looked like the rioters considered the destroyed car a trophy.

The state of our society is in trouble when taking a selfie surrounded by death and destruction is widely practiced and accepted.

Approved by an 18-0 vote of the Scroll editorial board.

'Selfie epidemic: empowering or toxic?' has no comments

Be the first to comment this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright 2015 BYU-I Scroll