When I was a kid, I took pictures for myself. I would occasionally snap a shot of whatever I found interesting with the intention that I would look at it later. My motivation wasn’t rooted in what other people would think of my pictures. The only way someone else would even see my pictures was if they were in front of me, I handed them a picture, and then said, “look.” Otherwise my pictures were in a box under my bed.
Because of social media and our ability to share pictures, now I take a LOT more pictures for you. I want to know what YOU think of my pictures more than I want to take pictures that I show no one. What is the point of taking a picture that is not worthy of distribution!?
Maybe we take some pictures purely for ourselves, but chances are those pictures are of a mysterious rash on your back that you can’t see in the mirror. I am willing to bet most of us only have a few sacred pictures that we like, but don’t intend on sharing on social media. And I am also willing to bet most of those are naked pictures.
I think most of us are somewhat disturbed by the vanity running rampant through culture, yet we also participate in the seduction. It feels good when I get approval from my peers, even if it’s superficial. “Oh really… you think my hair looks good? It’s so funny because I do too! That’s why I posted that picture!! Tell me more of what you think about me!” I have a black hole of need when it comes to praise. All compliments are vastly appreciated, but also sucked into a dark abyss that will never be satiated.
When I try to get to the bottom of the phenomenon of our modern selfie-society I think there are two major themes. One is the ever-present fear of mortality. In the back of our minds lies the existential truth that every second of every day we are getting older, thus ever closer to our death. The selfie is a preservation of youth – a snapshot of the narrative of our lives. “Ahhh. Remember when I was young, two minutes ago? Look at me then. So full of hope. Wait let me take another.”
We selfie as a desperate attempt to freeze time.
Then there is the fact that we are all so deeply insecure and in need for love/acceptance/praise. We don’t selfie because we think we’re that great. I selfie because I pray you think I’m okay.