Some like to criticize the latest trend to “selfie” as conceit. Matt Sweetwood sees it very differently, and he will share that with us here. As soon as he snaps another one.
Over the past few years I have taken hundreds of selfies and posted them all over my social media. You’ll mostly find my mug on Facebook, but I also put myself on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. I consider myself a social media and personal branding expert so selfies are something I make part of my posting rituals. I even gave a seminar with the NFL’s Steve Weatherford on selfies last year. Facebook is a wonderful place for selfies because it allows for an assortment of your “closest” friends to quickly like and comment. It also allows you to easily give context to your selfie with a comment, location and mood.
There is much talk today about whether someone who takes a lot of selfies is exhibiting signs of narcissism and psychopathy. There are many articles discussing this topic. Here’s a quote from an article by Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D. in Psychology Today:
“To examine the association between selfies and personality, Fox and Rooney used data from a nationally representative sample of 1,000 men between 18 and 40 years old… Results showed that both narcissism and self-objectification were associated with spending more time on social networking sites, and with more photo-editing. Posting numerous selfies was related to both higher narcissism and psychopathy, controlling for the overall number of other types of photos posted… This study suggests that narcissists are more likely to show off with selfies and make extra effort to look their best in these photos. Interestingly, psychopathic men posted more selfies, but didn’t tend to edit them more than their less psychopathic counterparts.”
The discussion about the narcissistic nature of folks who take selfies has made its way out of the psychiatric community and is now somewhat commonplace. And therefore, I have been called a narcissist. Fortunately, it doesn’t bother me nor has it stopped me from taking and posting and that is because I know that taking selfies has been helpful for me.
Growing up I was the pudgy, shy, freckled, kid who was the shortest and youngest in his grade. I was bullied incessantly, girls ignored me and I didn’t date in high school. In college I was the party wallflower and avoided social interactions. I had very low self-esteem when I met my first girlfriend, at 22 years old, in graduate school – the woman I ended up marrying and having 5 kids with.
She left me and my 5 little kids 20 years ago and never returned. I was a single father of five, overweight and underwhelmed with myself. The thought of posting a picture of me where anyone could see it was something I would have avoided like the plague. The thought of being the center of attention via a selfie post on social media is something I would have never imagined doing.
But somewhere along the way my desire to be the best dad I could for my kids and find happiness in the life I had, led me to put myself in shape, find confidence, and learn to love myself. Today that once shy boy, is now a professional speaker, regularly appears on national TV, has modeled (shirtless), dates frequently and has become a selfie king. Posting selfies are my way of reminding me that I am not unattractive and undesirable and am worthy of admiration and love.
So if you see someone posting selfies don’t judge them narcissistic without knowing more about them. Selfies are necessary therapy for those of us who have waged the battle against low self-esteem and lack of confidence – and won.