By: BROOKE THAMES ’18
The year is 2015, and the term on the tip of everyone’s tongue is “selfie”.
All the kids are doing it, and all the “experts” are saying that selfies are primary evidence that this generation is the most narcissistic yet. The recent drama surrounding Kylie Jenner and her ridiculously large lips seems to have added ammunition to their claim. Well, as a 19-year-old who loves her selfie, I’d like to politely disagree.
The success of the selfie has not unearthed a whole new level of narcissism in young individuals. If anything, the selfie is just the latest reincarnation of the same self-absorption our parents and grandparents possessed before us. The only difference is that ours is posted all over the Internet.
As the vast web that is the Internet has matured, it has transformed into a platform for the humans of the world. According to Internet Live Stats, there are 3 billion internet users across the globe. The development of social media has given a large portion of this public apparatus to the younger generation, giving the selfie free range to take over as the newest, most pervasive internet craze. It’s a trend that excites many and disturbs others, namely our parents and loads of psychologists.
Plenty of people observing the selfie obsession are noting it as narcissism, the excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance. A recently popular study performed by Ohio State University confirmed a correlation between selfie posting and levels of narcissism and psychopathy. A comprehensive survey revealed that men who posted more selfies in their everyday lives scored higher in areas related to narcissism and psychopathy. Jesse Fox, the lead author of the study, suggests that selfies may be evidence of growing narcissistic tendencies.
“With the growing use of social networks, everyone is more concerned with their appearance,” Fox said. “Social networking sites allow people to get ‘likes’ or comments on their pictures…[and] narcissists need that social validation.”
It’s not surprising that frequently snapping photos of one’s face is linked to self-absorption. But who is to say that our level of narcissism is any higher than the previous generation’s was at our age?
After all, the 70’s was declared “The Me Decade” on a 1976 cover story of New York Magazine. Self-concern comes with the territory of being young and free of responsibility. Before marriage, and mortgage, and kids, and career, all of our energy is self-directed.
I don’t think the selfie is proof that I care more about myself than my parents or grandparents ever did at 20. My narcissism is simply on public display, an opportunity that our predecessors didn’t have. If the internet did afford them the opportunity of posting the details of their young lives, best believe there would be archives of our parents hanging out, having fun, and living life while they were young. It’s probable, however, that they’ve forgotten just how similar their past selves are to the youths of today. They may have forgotten just how natural it is for youngsters to be so self-centric.
We likely will too when the next reincarnation of generational narcissism appears. We’ll shake our heads, and fists, and canes at the kids who are too young to see beyond themselves. We’ll deny that we ever took selfies. If we do admit it, we’ll claim it was a “different time” and kids are “much worse now”. We’ll probably turn into the “old stiffs” we’re currently rolling our eyes at.
But, for now, I’ll whip out my IPhone and snap a quick pic before life tells me I’m too old to care about things like that anymore. I’ll capture my life in stills in hopes that I’ll look back in x number of years and remember the “good ol’ days” with glee.
For now, I’ll love my selfie.