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Why Do We Love Selfies?


It’s officially socially acceptable. You take your phone out, point it at your face and smile into it with a cheesy grin. You can also call this act taking a selfie for short, of course. It’s a moment in time when the focus is solely on you. You look at your iPhone display as if into a mirror and press a button to commemorate a moment, an outfit or a travel destination. Selfies are in fact much more than just tools to record a couple of memories. The instant snaps play with our deepest needs and emotions and thus have earned their number one status on our phones and in our hearts.

1. We love ATTENTION When you’re taking a selfie, your undivided attention is on you. That’s the first mental reward. How many times a day do we take a minute to stop and ask ourselves, how am I feeling today? How often do you give yourself the attention you crave so much? By taking a selfie, you do exactly that. We use our phones for many things, social media above all other apps. You are giving away your attention to most of your friends several times a day. However, when you take out your camera and point it towards yourself, your attention is finally on you.

And what happens after you’ve taken that ever-so-cute picture? Time for your friends to see it, of course. The wide use of stories on Instagram or Facebook today make the content even more attractive for all of us to look at. If you don’t check it out now, it may soon be gone forever. This increases the chances that someone will check out your newest photo and at the same time gives you more freedom to post (almost) whatever you want, because soon it will be gone forever anyway. In any case, at that moment, only you are the star of the show.

2. We love CONTROL Cameras a.k.a. smartphones nowadays are incredibly easy to use. The quality of what we record it better and filters have the power to transform a boring mediocre snap into an instant “like-maker”. Only a couple of years ago we didn’t post this much. Why? Because the photos sucked! Last night’s party would be a series of blurry photos with a bunch of red pupiled people or close ups of our faces with one eye closed. These shots are not that sexy to post. The biggest problem was of course that the camera had to be held and controlled by someone else.

With selfies the control is fully yours. You hold the camera, determine the angle, the focus, your pose and facial expression. 100% in control. After the photo is taken, you choose which one of the 50 shots will make it to the next round: editing. Whatever happens in the privacy of the editing software is also fully in your control.

3. We love PERFECTION Pretty photos are always more likely to get more likes, aren’t they? Even babies prefer to look at attractive faces over unattractive ones. Bigger eyes, smoother skin, or maybe a bit more blush to contour the face? Anything is possible and you are the one who calls the shots. When taking a selfie you not only get the chance to choose the perfect picture but also edit it to fit your imagination. You get the to direct focus on your best features and get rewarded for your strive for perfection with likes. (#nomakeup + #nofilter = #noselfie)

4. We love VALIDATION Selfies are a product of evolution. If in the past days you were a an outsider of a certain community, not only did you not procreate but your chances of survival decreased massively altogether. Seeking acceptance from the people you’re surrounded with is therefore, perfectly natural. One research of Instagram selfies showed that young women are more likely to post selfies to look feminine and sexy. Men in comparison focus on their strength and show off their muscles.

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Posting a selfie on social media is an instant source of gratification. Humans in general prefer photos with faces. That is why photo of a friend or even a stranger is much more appealing to us than a photo of a landscape for example. That is why selfies are the perfect attention magnets and give you an instant sense of acceptance, when you see those likes and “you’re so cute” comments pouring in on your latest smile.

Selfies might be the self-portraits of our faces but they found their ways into our hearts. They point all of the attention to us, we are able to control how the picture is taken, perfect it and enjoy the validation we get from our friends in the form of likes and hearts. It’s not about narcissism but rather fulfilling you basic human needs. Selfies are personal, unique to you and they are your own way of expressing your identity, so could you even imagine a selfie-less tomorrow?

Sources:

http://www.nicola-doering.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Doering_Reif_Poeschl_2016_CHB_How_gender-stereotypical_are_selfies.pdf

http://www.psy.cmu.edu/~siegler/35langlois91.pdf