Yesterday I stalked my students’ social media feeds and found some chicks who post what I consider an unusual number of selfies. Hey, don’t judge. They friended me first. Anyway, I love over-analyzing people. Do it to myself all the time. So. A few of my students caught my attention. Of course, there’s the super beautiful ones. This one girl, she’s the living embodiment of perfection. Her Instagram account is stuffed with selfies. She’s an artist who uses herself as a canvas, with the blessing of hundreds. Go, girl.
What puzzled me, though, was the good-looking girl who was just taking regular pictures of herself. She had almost as many selfies as the other girl, more than me, and less likes than either of us. She averaged 10 likes her photo. She has a boyfriend, a pretty happy life from what I can tell. But there were dozens of them. What the hell was going on here? My brain couldn’t handle it. A girl who most people would consider attractive, posting lots of pictures of herself. They weren’t social–definitely straight up selfies. Except they were just regular pictures and they didn’t seem to attract all that much attention. I’m still working on understanding this. Please send help.
People who post a lot of selfies open themselves up to a number of criticisms. Do they have self esteem problems? Are they vain? Beats me. A couple of years ago, I hardly ever posted on social media. I didn’t even own a Twitter account. Now look at me. If I’m not making people laugh or posting pics, somehow my life feels like it has less meaning. I have no idea if that’s a good or a bad thing.
I’ve always felt like I should live to my fullest potential. On a superficial level, it feels great to see a tweet get 800+ likes. On a deeper level, I have to assume that making a few hundred people laugh every day has a positive impact on the world. Part of me feels a need to tweet and blog and even post selfies now, even if it doesn’t benefit me directly. The idea that someone might enjoy my social media nonsense makes me happy.
I’d consider myself attractive. You’d think that attractive people can live happy lives free of insecurity. Not really. On behalf of attractive people, let me explain. At least once a week, I worry that it could all be taken away. Not just my looks. But also my brains. It’s happened thousands of times. Cute smart chick has a horrible accident, comes down with a mysterious illness. And so on. What a shame.
I tend to think if I have a few great pictures then somehow, if something awful happened, who and what I used to be will be preserved. It’s not a logical train of thought. Or maybe it is. Who knows?
So. What’s an unusual number of selfies? Hard to define. But if I skim through your Timeline and all I see are selfies, that’s a big clue. Mix it up a little. Share an article. Make a joke. Take a picture of something other than yourself. Then post a selfie. Repeat.
My first draft of this post contained a lot of reasonable discussion about selfies. Fuck that. Nobody reads my blog for astute social commentary. So let me give you my unfiltered opinion:
- Post as many fucking selfies as you want. But you should probably think through your decisions. Why are you doing it? Do you like attention? That’s great, just make sure your selfies are smokin’ hot. You’ll be fine.
- Do whatever you want to your selfies. Use whatever filter you want. Turn them upside down. Edit the hell out of them. It really doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy with them.
- No matter what you do, someone will judge you. Trolls excel at judgment. Hell, I might even judge you (silently.) Ignore us.
- Fuck, this is sounding reasonable. I guess I can’t help myself.
- Remember that Instagram model that broke down and cried on YouTube a couple of years ago? Don’t wind up like her. She was warning you for a good reason. When selfies lose their fun, it’s time to stop. Even if you’re making money on them.
Social media has become important, no matter what you plan to do with yourself. A handful of good pictures can help your career a lot. I’m not talking about looking thinner or dying your hair. I mean a photograph with good lighting that captures the best you possible.
Last night, I browsed through photographs other people have taken of me. They vary wildly. Take this one wedding where I was a fucking bridesmaid. I got tagged in a couple dozen pictures. In some, I looked like a meth addict. In others, I was clearly a goddess. The same person on the same day can look radically different depending on angle, lighting, facial expression, body language, and background. The differences amazed me.
A good selfie takes a lot of effort. For every good selfie you see, imagine at least 50 alternate photos with a slightly different pose, from a slightly different angle under slightly different lighting, with a slightly different filter. I’ve done the math: A good selfie takes about 45 minutes of sustained effort, if you don’t count makeup. That’s why Instagram models don’t last long. They burn out. As for catfish, they don’t just offend the hapless romantics. Those people have no idea how much work a good selfie takes. Cheaters.