For those that follow us on social media, it’s no secret that Else goes after selfies pretty hard. From time to time, we’ve received meaningful feedback that perhaps our position is a little too harsh – judgmental even. Listening to feedback is important – and complicated. It’s my job, as a startup founder, to weigh its various flavors against what Else is ultimately out to achieve. But it's also my job to make sure our users understand what that vision is. Allow me to explain:
When it comes to selfies, public opinion is starkly divided. The pro-selfie camp heralds them as a way for people to feel good about themselves and exude confidence. But then there are those that absolutely loathe selfie culture – squarely classifying this behavior as obnoxious and self-absorbed. Selfie mania seems to be winning – and given that we live in an era where being obnoxious and self-absorbed is celebrated – is it really that surprising? The ubiquity of the Kardashians is a clear illustration of what popular culture has become, and what Americans are choosing to embrace. Kim Kardashian recently went on a book tour to promote Selfish – a collection of her own selfies, lauded by some (her own PR people?) as “art”. In fact, she frequently hashtags her self-portraits on social media with #SELFISH….as if that’s a good thing.
It’s obvious why KK does this – she makes money off of it. Loads of it. It’s pure branding. But what about the rest of us? What about the millions of tweens, teens – and even middle aged men and women - also addicted to posting selfies, in part because celebrity culture has made it seem like the thing to do? These days, it’s tough to go anywhere without catching people shamelessly posing for selfie after selfie. And how many of us have tripped on a selfie stick at the beach at least once this summer? Still…is it a rush to judgment to label this behavior as problematic? If it’s making these people happy, who are we to judge?
As a startup taking an unapologetic stance against modern selfie culture, it’s an issue we’ve explored deeply. We worried, at first, that knocking such a widespread, popular trend might hurt our brand. But ultimately, we felt it’s important to maintain our position for one simple reason: selfies don’t help people authentically feel good. In the long term, excessive selfie posting neither boosts confidence nor fights insecurities – and may in fact result in quite the opposite.
But let’s let the research do the talking:
- ·Psychiatrists are starting to consider selfies a real “mental health problem”, according to Time Magazine. The publication reported on the extreme case of Danny Bowman, who was driven to attempting suicide over insecurities about his selfies. While this sound like an isolated case, many studies have connected selfie holic behavior with deep insecurities. The quest for perfection becomes an obsession, and people – women in particular – begin picking apart their appearance in their never ending torrent of self-portraits.
- The picture isn’t much prettier for men (no pun intended). A recent study found men who post selfies over-index on both narcissism and psychopathy. The study, conducted by Ohio State University, also found correlations between the selfie-taking and other anti-social traits, including self-objectification. With these findings, some dating experts are even warning women against dating guys who take selfies.
- Selfies can absolutely harm dating and relationships for both men and women, researchers say. Selfie-holics alienate friends, family and significant others, while their behavior reinforces an addictive need for attention. And single ladies, regardless of how good you might look in that selfie, it’s not sending out a great message to your dating pool.
Bottom line - our selfies say a lot about us. Whether driven by ego or insecurity, both the causes and effects of selfie addictions are detrimental. Studies are clearly linking antisocial traits, plummeting self-esteem and narcissistic personality disorders with this craze – and in extreme cases, as with Danny Bowman, the outcomes can be even worse. Yet the mainstream media isn’t telling us about these dangers – or perhaps even fully aware of them. Brands are inflating selfie-mania by integrating them into their marketing campaigns, while Hillary Clinton defended selfies last week. Because studies related to selfie behavior are still so new, this not-so-harmless epidemic just hasn’t penetrated the public’s awareness yet.
Less self, more else. Our mission at Else is to pioneer a change that people desperately need – by bringing more positivity and authentic happiness to social media. If you’re with us, you don’t have to wait for our app to launch this fall! Sign up to become a test user of our alpha, which will be out very soon. And, you can also start sharing #elsies instead of #selfies today! All it takes is a tiny act of kindness. Tag us on Twitter (@Else_App), and we’ll be sure to re-tweet your awesome elsies to inspire others!
Feedback always welcome.