Reality check for ‘selfie’ addicts

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By Adrian Bobe

A-Listed!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


SENIOR high school student Anna (not her real name) is quite busy with a bulk of things: late-night parties, romantic relationships, addiction to social media and digital content, and in between, school works. Everything she does she shares online. Anna is a typical member of the “selfie” generation.

She is famous for being famous; she has an increasing number of followers online who consistently likes, comments, and shares her updates and digital feeds. She is a social media goddess and has drastically turned out as a narcissistic, self-promoting and self-proclaiming social network animal.

If in the past I pull out in discussions of branding Facebook and "selfie" addiction as a mental disorder, guess what, latest research findings reveal so. Health care professionals all over the world are worried what self-image disorders combined with social media can do.

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"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 specter of either narcissism or low self-esteem," wrote Pamela Rutledge in Psychology Today.

And so today, with fervent hope to spark change even to one reader, I am dedicating this column to the overwhelming number of people who are becoming more and more “selfish.” Yes, over- promoting yourself on social networks like Facebook is being selfish. Study suggests that keeping yourself offline is healthier.

Unconsciously, a person feels little less of himself when seeing a friend having a fair share of life: trips abroad, better jobs, flashy cars. Psychologically, we aspire to be like others and in the process, we are losing in comparison.

Also, if you are posting, say, more than five photos and five statutes a day, you are "distracted from reality." I often wonder, who really cares about what you do or where you are? Is someone sincerely interested in what you eat, how you eat it and how the food tastes? Who among your “likers” truly feel what you are feeling? And by the way, do people care at all?

Doubting me is not only the genuineness of friends in your social media circle, but more so, on the reasons pushing someone to become "overly open?" Why would you want others to know your disgust about the world? Who is sane enough to backstab his boss over Facebook? Why would you bother to take a picture of yourself in a bus, in new shoes, while in church or even half-sleeping?

But maybe, just maybe, I can understand that the instant gratification through immediate comments and reactions push online users to promote themselves. We have been consumed by the idea of personal advertising. We have allowed social media to liken its human users to brands, services or products. In short, we transformed ourselves to personal traders, selling what we eat, drink, wear, love and hate and do for people to buy—in this case, “like.”

The self-centered "selfie" addict is consistently taking a shot of himself and post it in real-time. From waking up to sleeping, it’s all documented and captioned: "Morning, world," "Brushing my teeth now, late for work, #rushmode," "anong ulam nyo? super gutom #eatpraylove." Work related self-news has also become a trend: "#hatemyboss," "presentation done #success," and of course, "I love my job."

But at the end of the day, how many of what we posted is actually true? If you post realities like you’re doomed in your workplace, you cheated on your partner, you accidentally hit someone or you are simply living a boring daily life, eating the same food to survive, would people mind liking it at all? I don’t think so.

The dangers exist anywhere social media does. "To pay close attention to published photos, controlling who sees or who likes or comments them, hoping to reach the greatest number of likes is a symptom that 'selfies' are causing problems," said Panpimol Wipulakorn, a Mental Health Department official in Thailand.

Indeed, we are cultivating a generation of pretentious, self- promoting mankind. In the middle of all things computer generated, we are becoming less and less realistic and sadly, dumber.

The art of conversation has lost its appeal to the young. Children oftentimes look down, busy with so many gadgets draining their being 'human.'

To keep away from social media is to keep you from being human. Understanding reality should not be limited in what flashes in your tablet or smart phones. At the end of the day, Anna would find herself alone, without the “likers” and avid social media followers. Like Anna, if we are to invest in virtual and digital relationships, we are doomed to find ourselves alone with our smart phones, incapable of facing real people and real problems.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 01, 2014.

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