Sep 26th, 2015, 01:50 PM

How Can We Cure the #Selfie Generation?

By Cristina Castello
But first, lemmie take a selfie (Photo: Shape)
It's clear that selfies exacerbate narcissism among teens - how can society teach them to think beyond the #selfie?

When I think about the word "selfie" and the integration of this word into our everyday lives, I can’t help but think about what the selfie epidemic is doing to teens today. Thinking back to my own adolescent years, when my daily concerns were primarily self-centered, I’m aware that all teens at any point in time experience these narrow perspectives that change and widen with time. It’s simply part of growing up. A sense of self and self-awareness is something that we carry with us, however the way in which we position ourselves with the rest of the world is dependent on our maturity and our social context.

Now, more than ever, the emergence of the selfie mentality poses a threat to the healthy maturity of global citizens. It isn’t even the physical act of taking a selfie that truly concerns me, rather the enhanced attention that we put on ourselves and portray to others. While the actual selfie is nothing new—dating back to the early 1900s and even to self-portrait photography in the 1800s—this phenomenon within pop culture and our everyday lives is now feeding a narcissistic culture and stunting the development of today's adolescents.

(Photo: Best Computer Science Schools)

While identifying our sense of self is part of what makes us human, the age of technological advancement we live in today is enabling a prioritization of self over communal perspectives on a large scale. Teens in today’s day and age are deeply engrained in a narcissistic upbringing amongst their already insecure selves. The act of selfie-posting can be attributed to several motives—narcissism, the desire to connect with others, self-validation, etc.—all of which point back to ourselves and don’t make room for wider perspectives on our communities and global issues. Not to mention how it creates yet another platform for judging others based on their physical appearance.

(Photo: Daily Fun Feed)

So, although nothing new, we should all be concerned about what this selfie epidemic is doing to our youth’s mentalities and perspectives on society. This has already contributed to stunting the maturity of individualistic perspectives, so what do we do about it? The efforts have to begin, like many, on a small scale—within schools, communities, among parent groups and concerned citizens—to emphasize social issues, the importance of global perspectives in anyone’s future, and a true sense of community. The proliferation of actual selfies that digital cameras, smartphones and apps have facilitated—over 1 million taken and shared every day on social media—is stripping the once held significance of self-portraiture as an art form and replacing it with significance on self-validation and self-centered motives.

Particularly for the future members of our civil society—teenagers who have grown up with advanced technology and selfies—how can this not concern the greater public? And while it may, can anything really be done other than educating at small scales to ensure that global mentalities and awareness of larger social, economic, and global issues prevail amongst this narcissistic mentally? We need to find a way to teach teenagers how to compartmentalize individualism and put more emphasis on global and social issues impacting today’s world. If enough of us can get #we or #us to trend on Instagram or Twitter over #me or #selfie, perhaps this would be a great first, albeit baby step towards more inclusive and communal outlooks and actions amongst this impressionable generation.

(Photo: Giphy