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Woman taking a selfie
Woman taking a selfie. Photo: Flickr/Paško Tomić

Understanding the selfie addiction

A study has found that a picture with a face(or a selfie) in it increases the chances of it being ‘liked’ by 38% and getting comments by 32%. When we think of a person, we think of his/her face which we use as a window to get a peek into the personality. How we project our faces play a key role in forming opinions. Every expressions, micro expression, mannerism, idiosyncrasy contributes to this process.

The need to capture our faces originates from our need for reinforcements. Every selfie is an opportunity to either reinforce our image of ourselves or actualize ourselves in a manner we want to. So what are reinforcements and what role do they play?

Reinforcements can either be positive or negative. A reinforcement is said to be a positive one if the feedback strengthens your beliefs, that is to say, the chances of you doing the same thing increases. When a positive reinforcement arrives, in the form of a ‘like’ or a compliment or a ‘share’, it strengthens our beliefs. One of the main reasons for the kind of volume of selfies being shared is this: the need to create instances for achieving such reinforcements. The number of selfies, therefore, plays an important role in deciding the probability of one receiving positive reinforcements.
Let’s see how these drives manifest in different ways:

The feel-good factor: Selfies also provide us a means to project ourselves in a manner that represents us in the best possible way. It helps us actualize our self and freeze on to an identity. And that brings us to the next purpose — to establish an identity.

The selfie is not just about our faces and how we project ourselves; the context also matters. The background, objects in the frame, the color composition all play a key role in understanding the personality of the selfie taker. Every element we allow to enter the frame, where we are the centerpiece, is aimed at elevating or improving our chances of getting the much-needed positive reinforcements.

Selfie craze and need for external validation

What’s the purpose of anything if there’s no feedback on it? We attach meanings to things based on what we think about them. And our meanings of things and what we think is based on our social context, the people we move with, our education, upbringing etc. So if we have to create an identity, we need a ‘thumbs up’ from others which will act as a strong positive reinforcement. When validation is not available, we turn desperate seeking it and it manifests as attention-seeking behavior.

Tell us why you take selfies and what goes through your mind before you take a selfie? What prompts you to take one and share?

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  1. I bet if we show a mirror to the the most beautiful woman or man on earth, she and he will still see how their looks could be improved upon.! It is an innate human tendancy to want and possess beauty. But perfection simply does not exist. Man is forever evolving and in the process of attaining.
    The digital photography that exists today is making it easier for the selfie crazed minds to constantly attempt to capture that single moment when our images could be captured near perfect. But as mentioned, perfection always eludes.

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