Thursday, March 14, 2013

Letter from the editor: "Selfies" a sign of narcissism

by Alison Haywood, News Writer 

  Go on your favorite social networking or content-sharing site of choice: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or for the more old-school among us, Myspace.
   Scroll down your feed a few minutes and you’ll notice a trend: selfies.

    Cell phone pics. Bathroom mirrors. Pouty lips, or “duck faces” as they’re commonly called. Basically, self-shots.

    They’re ubiquitous now. No longer just a reflection of teenage girl self-absorption, selfies are popping up on the profiles of people from all demographics. Guys are shedding their shirts to show off for the bathroom mirror. Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton famously took a selfie together.

    Even my dog posts selfies.

    Okay, that last one wasn’t true. But you get the point. It’s a growing phenomenon.

    Selfies could be a positive thing — an easy way to show off your latest fashion statement, a self-esteem boost on a good hair day or just a way to document the aging process.

    There could also be more sinister repercussions to these seemingly-harmless forms of self-expression.

    I would argue the latter.

    For one, we already live in a society oversaturated with media. Advertisements scream to us from every billboard, flyer and Facebook app: “Look like me! This is beauty. I am beautiful. In order to be beautiful, you have to look like this.”

    Just as models spend hours getting their hair and makeup just right for the big photoshoot — and editors carefully retouch any blemish, wrinkle or stray hair they miss — so too do young women and men waste time primping for their own shoots.

    Girls suck their stomachs in, guys flex their muscles and both genders try to imitate the sexy supermodel face.

    Most of the time, they just look ridiculous.

    Attempts to imitate the people portrayed in media, however, is far from harmless for teens. It is a tribute to the increasingly unrealistic standard of beauty our society holds dear.

    Once only aimed at women of childbearing ages, new media campaigns now seek to make targets of men and women of all ages, making them feel unworthy in order to get them to purchase products.

    By trying to be like the impossibly-beautiful models and celebrities we see on TV, we are saying, “yes, we hear you. You are beautiful and we want to be like you.”

    It would be better to instead celebrate ourselves as we are, rather than trying to be like something we are not.

    But even celebrating ourselves must not be overdone.

    There is a fine line between self-confidence and self-absorption. Anyone with internet access has the ability to create a “cyber personality,”so narcissism is on the rise.

    Teens and adults alike are drawn in by the idea of being able to write their own biography, so to speak, including only those aspects of themselves they are proud of and want known to the world.

    But this carefully crafted public image does not come across as professional or cool — it looks self-centered and narcissistic, and those bathroom-mirror cell phone shots are probably not the first thing you want to come up when a potential employer Google searches your name.

    Think twice before cluttering up cyberspace with yet another picture of your sassy duck lips. Consider what you are saying about yourself, and society.