How Selfies Feed Narcissism

Once upon a time, we used to take pictures of other people.

But with the arrival of a front-facing camera on Apple’s iPhone 4 in 2010, we began taking pictures of ourselves en masse. Selfies, they were called—a fluffy, innocuous-sounding descriptor.

Six years later, we’re taking more pictures of ourselves than ever. And the younger you are, the more likely you are to be participating in a trend that sees 100 new self-taken portraits posted on Instagram every second.

Snapping a selfie may not seem like a particularly dangerous habit. Certainly not as dangerous as, say, an addiction to something like alcohol, drugs or pornography. And an affection for self-portraits doesn’t cause the same kind of damage as those much more obviously self-destructive choices do.

Still, our culture’s predilection for selfies does come with some costs, according to experts. Namely, it invites those taking these pics to focus more and more on themselves … and to crave others’ attention and validation for the images they post online.

That’s just one of the troubling outcomes chronicled by the folks over at, who’ve compiled a detailed infographic regarding the impact of trend titled “Selfie Obsession: The Rise of the Social Media Narcissist.” In the introduction to this informative overview, Rawhide’s editors write, “Psychologists have noticed a rise in narcissistic personality traits, insecurity, self-objectification, addiction, damaged friendships, body dysmorphic disorder, and depression that coincide with the increase of selfies. Selfies may seem innocent in moderation, but overindulgence may lead to social media narcissism and other mental health issues.”

Here’s the rest of their research. It’s a collection of sobering selfie factoids that might prompt us to think twice the next time we’re tempted to pose just right, snap a quick pic, filter it, post it and wait for that wave of affirming likes to start flowing in.


Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

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