The Downside of Selfies

Notice your intention if you take a selfie today. How many photos do you take before you post? Do you use filters or editing software to change your appearance? If you do, ask yourself why.

Research shows that many people take 10 to 15 selfies before they find one they like. After choosing one there are many filters and options to alter your appearance, whether whitening your teeth, narrowing your chin, or making yourself either taller or thinner. Even if you are aware, these alterations subtly alter your sense of self, potentially reinforcing a belief that you are not “ok” just as you are.

In the comparison culture of judging your inside feelings against an external, often curated selfie, people’s self-esteem, on average, is said to be lower than before social media became part of everyday life. Constantly seeing others’ photos that seem to be the norm of every life, yet are altered to reflect a more perfect self, takes a cumulative toll on you as not only a viewer, but you as the selfie poster as well.

Even if you know the photos you are looking at are altered. Even if you know the photos do not reflect the daily routines of friends and family, the images that are imprinted on your brain through scrolling Instagram, SnapChat or Facebook make an impact. The feelings are often, “I’m not good enough,” or “I don’t measure up.”

The more intentional you are when you post a selfie, the more intentional you will become around your viewing of similar selfies.

Susan Reynolds, M.Ed is the co-founder of Mindhood, a company that provides daily challenges of mindfulness, healthy digital habits and ways to put one's phone down to people in community including groups in college, organizations and schools.