Billions and Billions of photos are taken every day and uploaded to Social Media Website capturing an incredible variety of events, emotions, accessories, journeys, general updates and many more everyday occurrences. But when does it start becoming a mental disorder to constantly update the world about your life?
It’s time for a confession. Everybody who’s “anybody” is on one form of social media. It’s a fantastic method of staying in touch with people and it’s made the planet revolve that much smoother. Of course, everybody takes photos and uploads them. It’s nice to share with others a holiday you’ve had or what you received for Christmas and announce who’s just entered a relationship. When it comes to having a profile picture, (the photo that is central to your identity when your name is being researched among the web) you feel you must ensure it is the best photo you can find, the one that shows all the positives about you. For some this can be an image of themselves at a party, with a loved one, on a cruise in Greece with a cocktail in hand to mention no names and that’s perfectly acceptable, but how far are you prepared to go to parade your image to others?
Self Portrait/Taken Photographs or ‘Selfies’ as they’re commonly known is a phrase that has recently become an addition to the Oxford English Dictionary demonstrating their vast powers across the globe. Experts state that the average person has 10-15% of selfies that make up their own account’s albums. But Sites such as Snapchat and Instagram where you’re encouraged to deal with photos alone have allowed it to become acceptable to take many more self-images which could be leaving thousands of people becoming mentally ill. In an article for Psychology Today, Dr Pamela Rutledge, Director of the Media Psychology Research Centre in Boston Massachusetts, said: ‘Selfies frequently trigger perceptions of self-indulgence or attention seeking social dependence that raises the ‘damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t’ spectre of either narcissism or very low self-esteem.’ Mental illnesses such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Narcissism which can lead to becoming a sociopath or even Munchausen syndrome (an extreme version of being an attention seeking disorder) can all derive from taking too many selfies. So why do so many people-particularly youngsters-partake? If you look at Hollywood and the glamorous lifestyle of celebrities, they’re lives are plastered everywhere. People care about the clothes they wear or where they’ve been etc. and so by taking these images of our own we’re saying ‘look at me’ whilst trying to secure our own place in society’s cruel ‘acceptance pool’.
It’s not so much the pleasure of putting the images onto these sites as it is to receive ‘likes’. This acceptance releases the hormone dopamine within our brains that can lead to a dangerous addiction. British teenager Danny Bowman tried to commit suicide because he was unsatisfied with his appearance in the selfies he took. He was so desperate to attract girls, he spent 10 hours a day taking more than 200 selfies trying to find the perfect image and this habit, which began at the age of 15, caused him to drop out of school and lose almost two stone in weight. After receiving treatment he is recognised as the UK’s first selfie addict. This could explain why some people feel the need to take multiple selfies at once.
A final thought for the brain, if you feel the need to alter that photograph of yourself, change the colour to black and white or tonal, insert a border, change the angle, or conduct another bizarre alteration in the pursue of a perfect self-photograph, beware, whatever’s left isn’t who you really are but rather how society wants you to be perceived.