Walking up to the second floor of Roger’s Student Center there are people left and right, arms extended pointing phones at themselves smiling. Quickly checking their phones, they make sure the picture came out to their standards. It doesn’t. They start to take the picture over and over again until it’s perfect. Faking the smile over and over in the same pose aiming the phone just a little hire or a little lower, the definition of insanity comes to mind here.
They’re taking what is known as a “selfie”. Probably the most commonly used word in 2013, so popular in fact, that the Oxford Dictionary inducted the word into the their dictionary. And this year, it has made its way back into mainstream, but not for likely reasons. The increased use of social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, has brought a bigger awareness to people and their looks, and it has also brought some not so likely problems such as addiction, and some people could have seen coming a mile away, like narcissism.
Earlier this year, 19-year-old Danny Bowman from the UK, who has been diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, or where a person believes they have deformities that don’t exist or obsesses over slight defects, and he was also diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Bowman was taking up to 200 pictures of himself a day for 10 hours straight. He also dropped out of school to pursue the one thing he had to have, the perfect selfie.
“Well that’s ridiculous,” responded Erin O’Quinn, a freshman and English major, when asked her initial thought on selfie addiction, “because I don’t see how anybody can take 200 pictures in one day and just get that devastated over it.”
In an interview with the Mirror News, Psychiatrist Dr. David Veale who helped treat the teen, says that Danny’s case is particularly extreme and “it’s not a vanity issue. It’s a mental health one which has an extremely high suicide rate.” The mental health condition has also been linked to narcissism or the love for one’s own appearance.
A study done in March by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery revealed that one in three facial plastic surgeons surveyed saw an increase in requests for procedures due to patients being more self aware of looks in social media.
“One theory of how personality develops is Cooley’s “Looking glass self”.Through interaction, children define themselves according to how they interpret how other people think of them,” said Sociology Professor Ryan Button, “It is through the other that we develop a sense of self (or personality).”
Charles Cooley, an American sociologist and a founding member of the American Sociological Association, came up with the concept of the ‘looking glass self’ in his book “Human Nature and the Social Order.” The looking glass self, as defined by dictionary.com, is the self-image an individual forms by imagining what others think of his or her behavior and appearance. According to this concept, people change themselves around certain other people to become more of how they believe people see them.
Button breaks the looking glass self down into an easier way to understand the process.
“It is not what I think about me. (we only understand ourselves through the process of socialization) It is not what you think about me. (we do not have privilege into others mind to know what they are thinking),” said Button, “It is what I think you think about me. (we are stuck interpreting what others think about us).”