People who regularly take selfies ‘overestimate their own attractiveness’

Selfie fans regularly overestimate their attractiveness in their photos, the study found

Excerpt from this article:

Posting a super-groomed selfie online could have the opposite effect to that intended, according to new research which found that selfie fans regularly overestimate their own attractiveness.

The study found that people who enjoy taking pictures of themselves rated themselves as more attractive than other people looking at their photos.

Observers also found selfie-takers less likeable as they appeared narcissistic, according to the researchers at the University of Toronto.

 

Two steps forward, one back

This article in The Economist offers a review of two new books, including “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.” by Nancy Jo Sales. Here is an excerpt:

For many girls, the constant seeking of “likes” and attention on social media can “feel like being a contestant in a never-ending beauty pageant”, writes Nancy Jo Sales in “American Girls”, a thoroughly researched if sprawling book. In this image-saturated environment, comments on girls’ photos tend to focus disproportionately on looks, bullying is common and anxieties about female rivals are rife. In interviews, girls complain of how hard it is to appear “hot” but not “slutty”, sexually confident but not “thirsty” (ie, desperate). That young women often aspire to be titillating should not be surprising given that the most successful female celebrities often present themselves as eye-candy for the male gaze. “Everybody wants to take a selfie as good as the Kardashians’,” says Maggie, a 13-year-old.

Such self-objectification comes at a cost. A review of studies from 12 industrialised countries found that adolescent girls around the world are increasingly depressed and anxious about their weight and appearance.

Teen Girls Flip The Negative Script On Social Media

The Benicia Compliments page sprang up on Instagram as a platform for girls attending Benicia High School to tag each other in positive social media posts.Excerpt from this article:

Last year, Caitlyn Clark, 16, who lives near San Francisco, saw an anonymous Instagram hate page about some girls she knows.

“It’s one of those things that just kind of appears like randomly, just out of nowhere. Someone will get tagged in a picture of themselves and the caption is just something really horrible,” she says.

That account disappeared after just a few pictures went up. In its place, girls at Caitlyn’s school created a different Instagram account. Open it, and there’s row after row of smiling selfies with comments like:

Sara is a great person with a loving personality.

I agree. Sara is so cute and nice. Can we have more people like you on this planet?

There’s also the trend of the “challenge” on social media. Usually, it’s something like, “How many mouthfuls of cinnamon can you swallow?” Increasingly, there are challenges designed to spread self-esteem, kind of like a modern-day chain letter.

On Facebook, for example, users are called on to post three confident selfies and to tag 10 people you feel should share their beauty with the world.

 

Me! Me! Me! Are we living through a narcissism epidemic?

It’s all about me …

Excerpt from this article:

The damage narcissism brings can be quite amorphous and ill-defined. “Much of our distress,” MacDonald notes, “comes from a sense of disconnection. We have a narcissistic society where self-promotion and individuality seem to be essential, yet in our hearts that’s not what we want. We want to be part of a community, we want to be supported when we’re struggling, we want a sense of belonging. Being extraordinary is not a necessary component to being loved.”

The full-blown disorder is associated with harsh, critical parenting, but a mass rise in narcissistic traits is partly ascribed by MacDonald to lax and indulgent parenting: “[With] parents seeing their children as extensions of themselves – they want to be mates, the boundaries aren’t set – the child gets very confused: ‘You’re great, you’re terrific.’ Maybe we’re not, maybe we need to know we’re just ordinary.”

There is a context even broader than Twitter: a competitive culture in which asserting one’s difference, one’s specialness, is the bare minimum for being market-ready.

Spare me the selfie school of feminism

Excerpt from this article:

Ask yourself who discloses, to whom and why. It’s simple stuff. If you’re late for work, you explain why the bus was stuck in traffic; your boss doesn’t explain to you. Women always give away too much information. As Lena Dunham has said, oversharing is complex and gendered and society trivialises female experience.

Talking about our “issues” obviously helps others. Sometimes. So does understanding your own history. The idealised nuclear family life that drove so many to depression and valium is what gave rise in the 60s to books like Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, which documented female misery. Each generation creates its own self-loathing. Now it’s binging and purging and self-harm. Young women reinvent the wheels that continue to flatten them.

It’s hard. We record every moment: everything is a hall of mirrors in which the self is reflected back at all times. Does any one of us have the necessary self-esteem? No. We are all flawed, but we are good enough. Do I need all the details of your dysfunction? No. Spare me the confessions and the 500 selfies.

For out there is a world controlled by those who disclose very little about their inner lives. That’s how we live.

 

“Status Update” Episode on This American Life Podcast

This American Life

The latest episode of the always excellent This American Life podcast opens with a story about young girls interacting with Instagram. Here is part 1 and here is part 2, worth a good listen.

Three teenage girls explain why they are constantly telling their friends they are beautiful on Instagram… [before] describing the complex social map that is constantly changing in their phones.

 

Why Your Kids Love Snapchat, and Why You Should Let Them

Excerpt from this article:

The short shelf life of [Snapchat] images lets teenagers abandon the need to emulate the perfectly posed celebrity, or to represent life as more fabulous than it really is.

…Most visual platforms put feedback from peers at the center of the experience. Life on Instagram, for example, is as much about the rush of scoring likes as sharing something creative with peers. Many users view likes as a barometer of popularity and even self-worth, with some even deleting posts that haven’t drawn enough attention. For tweens and young teenagers, the yearning is so powerful that many post content designed only to collect likes (the popular “rate for a like” post, for instance, offers to rate friends on a scale in exchange for a like). They may follow “Instagram stars” with hundreds of thousands of followers, observing what appear to be perfect lives that are, in reality, perfectly curated.

Not so with Snapchat, where audience participation is minimal. There is no “like” button to be found here, and no unwritten rule of reciprocity. Users have two choices to share content: post a Story, where the app will stitch together a slide show of your content from the last 24 hours; or share directly with a person or group of your choosing. You can see who watched your Story, but viewers can’t reply. That means you spend more time sharing and consuming, and less time worrying about who liked you and who didn’t.