What does the photography phenomenon reveal?
By Chitwan Khosla, Features Editor
“Selfie” was declared the word of the year in 2013 by the Oxford English Dictionary. A self-portrait photograph, the selfie is considered a trend by the millennials. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other such social platforms are flooded with selfies of young people. From Hollywood celebs to school children, everyone seems to be taking them. Although such selfies garnered a lot of popularity, they’ve also raised questions about people’s growing obsession with them. Such concerns emerged recently when people were found taking selfies in front of the rubble and remains of destroyed buildings in the earthquake-hit Nepal.
Nepal was hit by a 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25, leaving thousands dead and many more homeless and devastated. In the time of such tragedy, while the country grieves, many were found clicking selfies in front of the debris of the fallen buildings and historic monuments. At a time and a place when every hand should be helping the lives of many, people were busy smiling in front of their cameras, posing. Similarly, few weeks ago, with the help of his selfie stick a teenager filmed his mother and his girlfriend violently fighting, and the video went viral on the Internet. He smiled through the whole encounter, which he could have stopped by intervening. In another such instance, a teen clicked a selfie at his grandmother’s funeral—which was condemned on the social media.
It is not a matter about whether we should support or condemn these selfies and the people taking them. What matters is the time and the gravity of the situation which these people failed to understand. Perhaps their self-indulgence took over their sense of judgment and conscience. Honestly, every one of us is tempted to take a picture of ourselves alone or with our friends because of the super high-resolution cameras we have in our phones, but over the course of time, the selfie trend has turned into self-obsession. We click multiple shots and make different faces and poses to look our best in pictures. After a minimum of 10 shots, we upload the best one instantly with our friends through social media. According a study conducted by Ohio State University, this impulsivity of instantly sharing pics by men is sign of a psychopathic traits which also projects lack of empathy, as reported by DailyMail.co.uk.
Random clicks are very common and you can find people taking pictures of themselves at restaurants, classrooms, public washroom, gyms, and sometimes even at doctor’s visits. This behaviour clearly shows that the motive of clicking selfies has evolved less to capture memories and more to showcase yourself to the public. This in turn makes people more conscious of their looks.
DailyMail.co.uk also reported that as per a survey, women spend as much an average of five hours and 36 minutes every week taking selfies. The survey also indicated that as much as 22 per cent women out of the women who were surveyed said that the likes they get due to their selfies boost their confidence and they are motivated to take more selfies. Many also confessed that they delete their selfies soon if they don’t get many likes for them. The survey also revealed that women re-do their makeup, set their hair nicely, wear a flattering outfit, and find an area with good lighting before taking selfies. All these revealings of the survey, represent that taking a good selfie is a serious business. It involves a lot of time and effort sometimes and no doubt many compare the number of likes to measure their popularity.
So what does this really do to our sense of empathy and judgment? Well, it all comes down to one main thing: self-indulgence. One becomes self-centred once they get habituated to taking so many selfies that they start ignoring the conditions around them, and even the feelings of the people in the vicinity.
There is nothing wrong with taking pictures of yourself, but we must not forget that it doesn’t have to be a part of our daily routine. It is more important to live in the moment than to worry about your looks and lighting. A confident person doesn’t rely on the popularity of a picture but rather the popularity of their personality. It is not only insensitive, but also kind of stupid to take selfies while people around you are in trouble or are grieving. You would be looked upon as a selfish person despite your good intentions. So next time you pick up your phone or camera for a selfie, look around to make sure you are not offending anyone.