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Will Posting a Selfie Ruin Your Relationships?

If you have a social media account somewhere like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, there’s a good chance that somewhere out there is a selfie or two you’ve posted. The selfie craze started on Reddit around 2007 with the tag #selfy (view #selfy tags on reddit) and this simple self portrait is prevalent across the net with everyone from celebrities to astronauts on a space walk posting selfies for the world to like and comment on.

These common self portraits can be silly, serious, or anywhere in between, and can say a lot about your self confidence. But are they saying too much? Several recent studies say that may be the case, and that compulsive selfie posers may actually show signs of narcissism and psychopathy. With that in view it’s no wonder that recent studies have found that selfie posters not only view themselves and their selfies as more attractive than they really are, but they’re habitual selfie postings may be hurting their ability to form new, deep relationships.

A study conducted by the business schools at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Birmingham, and Heriot-Watt University found that in general, people who can’t stop themselves from sharing their selfies tend to have shallower personal relationships. Their study looked at 508 Facebook users with an average age of 24 and gathered information on how they felt about each person on their friends list. They then compared that to how frequently participants saw selfies posted by those people. Their results were perhaps not so surprising and found that if a friend on your list is not close then the appearance of multiple selfies may be found to annoy.

So why does the selfie seem to annoy some people? Researchers at the University of Toronto recruited college kids to take pictures of themselves and then had someone else take their photo. When shown the photos the public tended to rate those pictures taken by others as better than the selfies. They also found that the subjects when looking at the two photos of themselves side by side tended to rate their selfie as more attractive, whereas the person who took the non-selfie photo viewed them as similar.

Researchers came to the conclusion that the selfie poster tends to see themselves as cuter or more attractive than they really are, and persistent posters may soon gain a label as narcissistic or vain. The effects of this can be highly detrimental as many people keep co-workers and casual acquaintances, like neighbours and their children’s friends parents, within their online social circle.

There is hope for those that just can’t seem to kick the habit, because the same study that looked at the effect of selfies on relationships also found that when your friends are close that they’ll support you, selfie or not. In fact, the study even found that your best friends are not only less likely to have a problem with your obsessive self-photo sharing, they even seem to like it as they tended to report higher levels of support for the close friends that post regular selfies.

So while your besties and your close intimate relationships are unlikely to be affected by a selfie obsession, it may mean that it will affect the relationships that you have with other people on your friends list and the prospect that they have to become close relationships.

References:

  1. http://spp.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/04/27/1948550616644299.abstract
  2. http://epapers.bham.ac.uk/1723/1/2013-03_D_Houghton.pdf
  3. http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/spacewalk-selfie/
  4. http://publicculture.dukejournals.org/content/27/1_75/137.abstract?sid=b88ad264-8d9c-43d2-8045-70eacd7df996
  5. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/opinion/columnists/article_c2f649fe-bea5-11e3-8dbf-001a4bcf6878.html