To Selfie or Not to Selfie

“Selfie” is the new trendy word. The Oxford dictionary defines a selfie as a photograph that one takes of themselves and shared via social media. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Snapchat are great vehicles for people to share their selfies with friends and relatives. It seems like everyone these days is posting selfies, even celebrities! However, posting selfies can actually have a negative impact, particularly among women and teens.

According to a study from the U.K.’s University of Birmingham, the more a person posts selfies, the less close their friends feel about them. In other words, too many selfies can actually alienate friends. A selfie (photo of just self) can be viewed differently than a selfie with group of friends included in the photo. Too many selfies can be viewed as self-focused, while frequent selfies with friends can make other people feel left out. Most adults can handle this well, but it can be troubling for some women and teens in particular, who are in the midst of figuring out who they are and often times already dealing with social pressures. It’s important to help teens understand that too many selfies with friends can sometimes cause more harm than good, as it demonstrates exclusivity – even if this is not intentional. An alternate solution may be sharing photos via text or photo sharing websites.

Talking with teens about their selfies, as well as how they feel about their friends’ selfies, may be a necessary conversation, especially at a time when they are building self-confidence. Selfies can lead to too much emphasis on the “likes” or comments a post receives, which depending on the results, can negatively impact self-confidence. This can affect adults too.

So this begs the question, should people stop taking selfies? Not necessarily. Just remember the quantity can have the reverse effect than what was intended. The old adage “less is more” really applies. This doesn’t mean avoid posting selfies all together, but realize that frequency should be a major consideration.