Smile and say cheesy: what selfie sticks say about us

Smile and say cheesy: what selfie sticks say about us August 9, 2015

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From The New York Times: 

Since the advent of front-facing cameras on cellphones, selfies have been a matter of eye-rolling and vague embarrassment even among those who take them (often making a pouty lip “duckface” if female or asymmetrically setting the eyebrows if male). Now, though, it seems a line has been drawn at mounting a camera phone on a perspective-enhancing stick — as if to confine selfies’ intrusion into society to at most arm’s length.

Psychologists, technologists, behavioral economists, art historians and futurists differ in their interpretations of the selfie and the risks people are willing to take socially and physically to snap them. But there is general agreement that selfies are a form of expression that may reveal more than the taker intended, no matter how flattering the filter used.

Much of the research on selfies reveals that (surprise!) people who take a lot of them tend to have narcissistic, psychopathic and Machiavellian personality traits — which may explain why they are oblivious when they bonk you on the head with their selfie sticks. This is not to say that everyone who takes a selfie is a psychopath, but it does imply a high need for self-gratification, particularly if they are posted online for social approval.

“People forget that narcissism is not just about being an egomaniac — it’s also driven by underlying insecurity,” said Jesse Fox, an assistant professor at Ohio State University’s School of Communication who studies the personalities of selfie takers. “They need to get ‘likes’ to get validation.”

Other research suggests people are more likely to post or text selfies when they are emotionally aroused, as when they are sexually excited, angry or anxious. Interestingly, nonarousing emotions like contentment are negatively associated with sharing selfies or other content.

Moreover, studies show that regular users of social media tend to score lower on measures of belonging and meaningful existence if they are precluded from posting content and feel ostracized if they don’t get “likes” (the digital version of thumbs up) when they do post content.

Read on. 

Well, maybe. People can get carried away. But sometimes a selfie stick is just a selfie stick. Sometimes you just don’t want to have to bother another person (or a stranger) and ask them to hold the camera to take that one memorable picture that you know will look great on your Facebook page or maybe, even, on your family Christmas card.

And sometimes you really do just want to make sure everyone gets in the shot because, hey, it’s fun.


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