Marium Saeed is a journalism student at Northwestern University’s branch in Doha, Qatar. She is currently working in Lyon, France and loves to write, read, and discover new cultures.
Does being a generation obsessed with selfies mean that we’re a generation obsessed with ourselves?
While scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I came across an article that was gaining some traction within my circle of friends: “Doha named the selfie capital of the MidEast,” read the title. Although I wasn’t surprised at this outcome (a quick scroll down my Instagram page would show you why), I was curious to read more.
The survey got me thinking about why selfies had gained so much popularity in such a short period of time. Switching the front camera of your phone and stopping for a selfie regardless of where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing has become a routine part of many people’s lives all around the world. Surely the increase of phones with front cameras played a role, but the selfie trend has also prompted researchers and psychologists to question whether or not this selfie frenzy is just another sign that this generation has become the Me Me Me Generation, as TIME magazine dubbed it.
This post by the Guardian was one of many to explore what the rise in selfie-taking teens says about our generation. Some argue that it’s just another testament to how self absorbed our generation has become. After all, the selfie is literally all about the person taking it. I have to admit that it’s easy to see why this selfie craze has bestowed us with a reputation as superficial youth with gigantic egos, but there’s more to the story.
Technology is at it again.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but obviously technology and the popularity of social media play a role in this phenomenon. Although how it plays a role is where opinions diverge. While the author of the controversial TIME’s article, Joel Stein argues that “technology has only exacerbated [millennials’] selfishness” and “their constant search for a hit of dopamine (someone liked my status update!),” others like psychologist Pamela Rutledge have argued that selfies fulfill humans’ century long urge to self-explore through self portraits. Selfies posted around social media just happens to be our way of doing it.
“It’s not a big leap to go from a pursuit of self-exploration to the desire for self-portrait,” writes Rutledge. From Ancient Greek times to when cameras were invented, people have been obsessed with self-exploration through such portraits. No one accused ancient Greeks of being narcissistic as far as I’m aware. Looking past their obviously superficial characteristics, selfies can also be as much about getting approval from others as much as it is about appearance. Like Jonathan Freedland puts it in his article for the Guardian: “You post a picture of yourself and wait for the verdict, your self-worth boosted by a happy spate of “likes”, or destroyed by the opposite – a resounding silence.”It’s just a phase.
There are also those who vehemently oppose this attack on our selfie-loving generation. This article by The Wire and a blog by Tom Hawking argued that it seems that at one time or another, the media and older generations alike pointed a finger at younger generations and labeled them Generation Me. If any generation Y or millennials out there feel offended about being labeled narcissistic, lazy and egotistic, don’t worry about it, apparently every generation has gone through this “Me Me Me” phase before. We’re not alone! “Basically, it’s not that people born after 1980 are narcissists,” goes The Wire article, “it’s that young people are narcissists, and they get over themselves as they get older.” If this is true, perhaps those who despise our selfie-taking ways will just have to wait until we grow out of it? On the other hand, if this generation is inherently all about me me me and always will be, I guess all that’s left to say is #sorrynotsorry.