Selfies: one of the most obvious symptoms of low self-esteem

I have taken the odd selfie and posted it on Instagram, but I can’t stand it when people repeatedly post selfies on social media.  I unfollow those people, even if they are people I am actually friends with.

Why?  I have thought about this in depth, and the most concise answer I can come up with – aside from selfies being boring as hell – is: they’re blatantly attention seeking, and nothing else.  They don’t really make for interesting pictures, and people generally look the same in every selfie.   The completely unrelated captions that are added to selfies (purely to suggest that the poster has some reason for uploading the shot other than fishing for compliments) are particularly eyeroll-worthy.

But attention-seeking isn’t necessarily bad, right?  Of course not.  It depends on the reason for the seeking of attention.  Some selfies are there for a reason, for example, the university graduate in their robe who has just graduated from their course, is proud of their accomplishment and maybe wouldn’t mind a bit of recognition.  That’s all well and good.  They want attention for an exceptional achievement.  We all want attention for achievement and that’s natural.  The mother who’s x-months pregnant and posts a baby-belly pic for her friends to see.  That’s also an achievement and not an everyday occurrence for her.

The selfies that annoy me aren’t these type of selfies.   The annoying selfies are a very “look at me, look how good I look” thing, the purpose of which is to garner attention for the poster without them having done anything to warrant that attention.  General selfies appear to be posted for no specific reason, and are generally just a close-up of their (usually heavily made-up) face accompanied by a random caption such as “dying for nachos right now!!!” or – even worse – an extremely deep song lyric.

I don’t think posting the odd selfie is a problem.  I’d like to make that clear, before I am denounced as a “selfie-hater”.

The point where it becomes a problem, per se, is when someone is uploading selfies on a very frequent basis, often as a substantial amount of their entire social media feed.  We can excuse actors, models, musicians or anyone whose job it is to promote themselves and/or whose job is based on their appearance. I’m not talking about them here.  I’m talking about your regular girl/guy-next-door.

So why do people feel compelled to seek attention through selfies?  I’ve thought about this for quite a while now and I’ve considered this to be primarily a symptom of low self-esteem, coupled with the competitiveness of an image-driven consumerist society – the one in which talent isn’t valued anymore, but looks and having the right aesthetic is.  I doubt I’m the only person who thinks a high level of selfie-posting directly correlates with a low level of self-esteem, either.  A spoof article claiming the American Psychiatric Association had decided that “the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self  and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy” (and is now a psychiatric condition known as “Selfitis”) has been doing the rounds.  The satire piece hit the nail on the head.  The condition is false, but the description as a symptom is accurate.

Is it necessarily an issue of low self-esteem though, or one of being self-absorbed?  It can be difficult to differentiate between the the two sometimes.  My guess would be that people who are self-absorbed need less validation and, as I find selfies to be a reaction to a need for validation, recurrent posting of selfies would suggest a low self-esteem rather than an inflated ego.  It could definitely be both of those things for some people.  I am interested to see what the future research on this topic looks like.

I look back at some of my selfies and wonder what were my real reasons for posting those shots.  I’m not going to deny the fact I’ve posted attention-seeking selfies.  I’ll annotate a few.

Screen shot 2014-06-29 at 6.15.57 AM

I posted this because I thought I looked cute.  I know my night beforehand wasn’t super-fun.  I can only imagine I posted it on Instagram because I needed some positive affirmation after a disappointing night.  The caption is pointless.  Conclusion: Attention-Seeking Due to Low Self-Esteem.

Screen shot 2014-06-29 at 6.17.19 AM

I thought I looked less like a homeless bum for once and that this was worth a social media post.  Conclusion: Attention-Seeking Due to Low Self-Esteem.  Do you like the angst-generated caption?

Screen shot 2014-06-29 at 6.17.23 AM

I had just had my hair professionally done and it will never look like that again because I generally cannot be bothered doing my hair, so I was damn well gonna post a pic.  Conclusion: Low self-esteem or just wanting to record a good haircut?  Jury’s out.  The caption’s fairly pathetic (attention-seeking) though.

Screen shot 2014-06-29 at 6.18.49 AM

I know I took this out of boredom.  Unemployment will reduce you to this.  I’m pretty sure I needed attention, and getting likes and comments on a picture of you on Instagram is a way of getting attention.  And it’s kind of arty, right?  Conclusion: do I need to tell you?

So are selfies an obvious symptom of low self-esteem?  I think the reasons behind posting selfies and also the regularity of doing so are going the be key.  But in my opinion, regular uploading of selfies is a symptom of low self-esteem.

And the people who lap up these selfies?  That’s another blog entry for another day.

x Kitten of Doom

PS. The irony of posting four selfies in one blog post is not lost on me…


~ by Kitten of Doom on June 29, 2014.

5 Responses to “Selfies: one of the most obvious symptoms of low self-esteem”

  1. So over the 100 selfies in one day, kill me now!

  2. Really, a need for validation/low self esteem + a reaction to consumer culture? What about contending with marginalisation and an entirely separate/isolating society, what about disparity and belonging, maintaining connection and community, what about as a form of self expression or as a means of locating an identity? Yesum, people use ‘selfies’ for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, but i reckon you can do much much better at unpacking this. Only my opinion tho.

    • You raise some good points. My observations were based on the selfies that I see on a daily basis, and the types of captions they accompany the photos with. It’s true that not all people are posting selfies for the same reasons.

  3. people who take selfies are pathetic wastes-of-space. They suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and believe that THEY are the center of the universe. There arrogance pisses me off. But hey its not my problem if there self-esteem is so low, hey i wish these people could go and get run over by a freight train thats one less fuck-wit the internet has to deal with.

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