Selfies linked to mental illness
Is your Instagram feed like a photo booth, filled with selfies of every sort? Do you have one for every emotion? Every outfit? Every season? A study suggests you may have low self-esteem or crave attention and need help. Dr. Renee Solomon of Los Angeles alcohol and drug rehabilitation center Forward Recovery said social media has worsened what some researchers call “selfitis.”
“Social media is a constant competition of whose life looks better and who can take the best picture,” Dr. Solomon, a psychologist and Forward Recovery’s CEO, said. “Many people focus so much on taking the best selfie that they forget to enjoy being in the moment and appreciating wherever they are.”
Several scholarly studies, including a November 2018 study at Swansea University in the United Kingdom aimed to measure selfies’ effect on personal psychology. As WebMD cited, the study followed 74 people ages 18 to 34 for four months and found that the people who posted high numbers of selfies on social media averaged a 25 percent increase in narcissistic traits including entitlement, exhibitionism, and exploitation of others.
A 2017 study by Janarthanan Balakrishnan of India’s Thiagarajar School of Management and Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom suggests that people who take six selfies or more daily might be in trouble.
“I have heard clients in my treatment center say that they did not receive enough likes on their picture and felt sad about it,” Dr. Solomon said. “When we limit our evaluation of our self to the response to a picture, we are cutting out the important part of social interaction and building solid self-esteem.”
The quest for the perfect “selfie” encourages people to focus more on themselves — a characteristic of narcissism — which often includes lack of empathy as a trait. The world is not better off, she said.
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