When I was getting my author page up and running I had enlisted my daughter as my photographer and had her taking head-shots for me. I honestly have to say that it was a very uncomfortable exercise on my part. There is something about being in a picture by myself that makes me feel extremely vulnerable. I am pretty sure that my children will never suffer from the same affliction because I am as bad as the paparazzi the way that I am always snapping pictures of them. I am sure they must be used to it by now. It just feels so strange to me to pose for a shot by myself. I want pictures of my friends and family with me.
As for the selfie I am a complete and total failure. I try to take pictures of myself with one of my children before and I absolutely suck at it. I have determined that I may have abnormally short arms. I have browsed some of the studies circulating about how people who often distribute the pictures that they take of themselves online are drastically more likely to have psychological disorders. I even watched a video montage about a young woman suffering from some relatively sever psychoses who took a picture of herself on her computer every day. So I started paying attention to the pictures that I see pass me by on social media and I definitely began to notice a trend. While I will not say that I have many friends suffering from mental disorders that I know of; I can definitely identify the people that I know posting frequent selfies of themselves to be the least self-confident of the people that I am acquainted with.
To be fair, I have also browsed a couple of articles that defend the practice. They declare that the behavior of publishing selfies can indicate that the subjects are actually stepping out of their comfort zone and challenging themselves positively by taking and posting their own pictures. While I understand this argument, unfortunately, I have to say that from my personal observation, that is not what I see happening online. I actually do know one young woman who often posted self taken portraits and I do believe that her situation may have been a positive one, but that may be greatly swayed by the information I have, because I know that she has been doing a lot of growing and self-exploration lately, and I have not seen her post a selfie in a very long time. The reason that I am so interested in all of this is because I believe that the practice is becoming commonplace and socially acceptable by the general population, and children are right there in the middle of it.
When an individual takes a picture of their face and then posts it on social media, are they looking for other people’s acceptance of their physical appearance? Do any of us actually think that there is any way that the behavior could be a healthy one? Sorry to report the bad news, but it is quite similar to walking up to your friends and asking them if they think that you are pretty. On the mild side, it could denote a lack of self-confidence or personal pride, which honestly most teenagers are suffering from anyhow, so it would make sense that we see so many selfies circulated by that age group in particular. On the more frightening side of the spectrum it could be pointing out individuals who have so little mental stability that they are desperately seeking out likes to prove to themselves that they are valuable as human beings, and what makes that even scarier is that we want for every person to care more about what is on the inside than what is on the outside for their own mental health.
I don’t have a solid answer to all of this, but I can say that I have discussed it with my children in an attempt to discourage the practice in the future. And no, I do not plan on letting any of them have their own social media pages or e-mails that are not moderated by my husband and myself before they are eighteen years old. In this growing age of technology we have so many bases to cover as parents, and it is vitally important that we know about the dangers that our growing children may come up against one of these days. I feel like I am battling every single day to make sure that my children are not as tragically obsessed with their physical appearance as the majority of the population is. I wish every parent out there lots and lots of strength, and I do strongly suggest that you have a conversation with your kids about the selfie.