iStock/PeopleImagesIt’s become something of a ritual for many of us. When you’ve binge-watched everything on Netflix and you’re tired of online shopping, you head to the bathroom to don your very best makeup. Your goal is clear; to get the perfect selfie for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat… Or, more likely, all of the above. After perfecting your eyeliner and curling your lashes, you’re ready. You hold up your phone, pout those lips real tight, and, in an instant, snap.
But wait, have you ever wondered what’s behind your burning desire to self-document? Most people would say that this is a form of expression or perhaps even a way of boosting their self-esteem. Whatever your reasons may be, the moment you upload that picture, it’s no longer yours to judge. Instead, you pass over that immense power to the online world.
While you may think that your ever-growing collection of selfies endears people to you, quite the opposite may be true. That is, at least, according to a recent study, conducted by Sarah Diefenbach, a professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and published in Frontiers in Psychology. Diefenbach surveyed a total of 238 people in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland to find out how many people regularly take and upload selfies and what they thought when others did the same thing.
Rather unsurprisingly, a massive 77 percent of the people surveyed admitted to indulging in regularly taking selfies. What was more interesting, though, was the fact that an astounding 82 percent of people said that they would rather see fewer selfies on social media. Diefenbach calls this the ‘selfie paradox’: the idea that we like taking selfies but seriously dislike looking at other people’s selfies online.
The research didn’t just delve into whether we want to see selfies, but also looked at how we view our own selfies as opposed to those of others. According to the results, people tend to see the selfies they take as “self-ironic” and “authentic,” whereas they think that other people’s selfies as “less authentic” and more “self-presentational.”
In short, this research suggests that there is a massive gulf of difference between how we see our own selfies and how we judge other people’s pictures. It suggests that we are comfortable with the selfies we post since we believe they are obviously not serious or vain, but we think everyone else is an utter egotist for doing the very same thing.
“This may explain how everybody can take selfies without feeling narcissistic. If most people think like this, then it is no wonder that the world is full of selfies,” explains Diefenbach. So, as illogical as it sounds, this could be why we unashamedly post selfies and then judge other people for doing so. Somehow, we are able to separate our own selfies from the sea of them online and naively think that ours are the only authentic ones.
So, the next time you idly reach for your phone and flick through the filters, consider this: The people around you may not need another carefully planned snap of your face. Instead, you might be better off, giving it a break and calling off the selfie photo shoot today. While you’re at it, make sure you never post these pictures on social media either.