Me, My Selfie and I: What Your Selfie Says about You

selfieFrom Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat and beyond, we are living in a selfie world. But is that a good thing or a bad thing?

One recent study indicated that selfie-takers may form more shallow relationships than those who don’t. The study concluded, “Increased frequency of sharing photographs of the self, regardless of the type of target sharing the photographs, is related to a decrease in intimacy in personal relationships.”

But, inherently, does being more selfie-ish make you more selfish? Or does it place too much value on the approval of others?

“People often rely on others’ perceptions, judgments and appraisals to develop their social self,” said Sondra Wise, a licensed clinical social worker for Memorial Counseling Associates. “According to Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, selfies can present a more attractive image of a person’s life. When selfies are posted on social media, getting ‘likes’ from peers reinforces the social self over the real self.”

That said, selfies might have an upside. While the taking of selfies knows no age limit, their impact can be felt most among tweens and teens, who are already navigating the tricky world of youthful self-esteem. Their self-love (and selfie-love) can be affected by a variety of sources such as school, peers, the media, parents, level of expectations, performance and body image. According to an Ideal to Real TODAY/AOL Body Image survey, 65 percent of teen girls said seeing their selfies on social media actually boosts their confidence; 40 percent of teens say social media helps “me present my best face to the world.”

Anything that gives teens a confidence boost can’t be bad, right? Maybe. After all, selfies emphasize the aspect of society that has been plaguing us for centuries–that physical appearance and the opinion of others are a basis for self-worth.

“Teens can feel overwhelmed when dealing with all of the physical changes and mental pressures of adolescence,” Wise said. “As they journey through hormonal changes, academic, athletic and peer pressures, criticism and dating challenges often cause teens to struggle with developing healthy self-esteem.”

How do we combat the risks of losing self-esteem to selfie culture? Wise suggests six strategies presented by Sean Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

  • Keep promises to yourself. When you make a promise to yourself, take it seriously.
  • Do small acts of kindness. A wonderful byproduct of helping others is feeling good about yourself.
  • Be gentle with yourself. Use positive self talk and don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
  • Be honest. Don’t mislead, exaggerate or embellish.
  • Renew yourself. Take time to relax and have fun.
  • Tap into your talents. Find and develop a talent, hobby or special interest.