#me - The Psychology of Selfies

That's The Chainsmokers' 2014 hit song, Selfie.  As of the publishing of this piece, the song's music video has amassed an astronomical five-hundred-and-twenty-five million views on YouTube alone! 

Selfie YouTube Count.png

But as crazy as those numbers are, check these out!

What is driving this phenomenon that is at times an even fatal habit?

"narcissism, psychopathy, and machiavellianism"

As reported in Psychology Today, one study analyzed 1,000 men between eighteen and forty years old to see if there was any correlation between taking selfies and what they called the "dark triad" of psychological disorders, those being, "narcissism, psychopathy, and machiavellianism."  Several additional studies that included both men and women came later, with the results published in a follow up piece titled, "What is the Real Link between Selfies and Narcissism?"  Both concluded that especially for men, there was a modest correlation between increased selfie-taking and narcissism.  Yet while researchers agreed there needs to be, well you know, more research, it does appear that aside from certain obvious cases--yea, you know who you are!--most of us who take selfies are not narcissistic psychopaths!

I'm dating myself here

O.K., so I am officially old enough to remember a day and age when you could NOT take a picture without pointing the camera at someone else besides your self.  It was just physically impossible!  Then cameras came along with a timer.  Remember sitting your digital camera on a tripod or propping it up on anything stable and then sprinting to get into place with your other friends or family members, anxiously striking a pose before that blinking red light turned off?  But technology marches on, and with the dawning of the smart phone and their front and back side cameras, a whole universe of digital self-chronicling possibilities has opened up.  So what does the exponential growth of selfies say about ourselves if it doesn't point to a pandemic of dangerous levels of self-absorption?

people just want to...

I'll conclude with a theory that predates even the invention of the first camera.  It's not complicated and at its heart it isn't a bad thing.  In fact, the only way it becomes a bad thing is if this basic human need isn't met!  This deficit then fuels the "dark triad" and probably the rest of the identifiable psychosocial illnesses produced by human brokenness.  So what is that need?  Well it turns out that it doesn't matter who is taking the picture. In the end, people want to be seen.