My bubbly, smiley, sexy, kinda famous, and totally gay husband Kyle Krieger? James Franco? Every man that makes me laugh from Russell Brand to Richardland? All these men take selfies. And I’d put my head in the oven immediately if they or their selfies left my life. Even though my oven runs on electricity. ’cause if selfies equal pscyho and if psycho is wrong – I don’t wanna be right. And speaking of right, surely this conclusion can’t be. So, what gives?
According to PetaPixel:
The research project was led by Ohio State University communication professor Jesse Fox, who also found that men who edit their selfies prior to uploading score even higher in narcissism and self-objectification. “It’s not surprising that men who post a lot of selfies and spend more time editing them are more narcissistic, but this is the first time it has actually been confirmed in a study,” Fox says. “The more interesting finding is that they also score higher on this other anti-social personality trait, psychopathy, and are more prone to self-objectification.
As usual, the media’s taking a “correlation” and turning it into a “causation” for clickbait. And I’ll bite – just long enough to play devil’s advocate and stuff. BTW: to the lay non-sciency types, all “correlation v. causation” means is that just because two things may happen simultaneously in a group of test subjects (like selfie-taking and psychopathy), doesn’t mean that one caused the other. Until significant evidence from more research is gathered, you can’t prove a damned thing in either direction. But we can speculate:
On the one hand I can see how there’d be a correlation between antisocial or psychopathic tendencies and abundant selfie-taking (but only if it doesn’t serve a purpose. Like making me laugh.). You have to be kind of out of touch with all those things that go in the feel-good spirituality bucket (like consciousness, connection to others, empathy, love, etc.) if your fundamental focus or definition of relevance in this world has to do with giving good face. Yes, the excessive selfies could be a symptom of psychopathy – seeing as those with the condition can’t connect and don’t typically have all’a that good, gooey, godly inner stuff and narcissism is sometimes a manifestation of that. But non-connecting and outta-touch-ness with your spirit isn’t solely some psychopathic symptom. That’s more of a collective cultural problem. People are marketed to that they’re objects from early on. Something to hang ornamental makeup and clothing on, like year-long Christmas tree. We get distracted by our own decorations. Meanwhile, we forget to water the pan stand below. We go brittle. Dry. Die inside.
And why wouldn’t we?
We’ve been born into that mindset at one end.
And given the handheld means to reinforce it at the other.
(A rapidly narrowing gap.)
So, I don’t think we can take something like a selfie, quantize the amount our man friends snap ’em, and say it’s a barometer for Dahmerism or deserving of DSM diagnoses. Because people are motivated by innumerable reasons when it comes to the infamous auto-mug shots. I have some friends who do it to be funny and ironic. Some do it to share a new hairstyle. Some do it to show what they’re doing at that moment. Some, like Franco, take pictures that show him made up and expressive and ready to work – while others show him with dead eyes and nada but a forced Mona Lisa smile while a cat’s draped over him. I like to think his inner artist is showcasing the great big nothing hiding under any actor’s duality masks we see on (and often, off) screen. But maybe he’s just bored. Or a psycho. Who knows.
Still, another salient point is this: selfies have become a kind of viral phenomenon.
Why’s that matter? Maybe the better question is – are we maybe trying to connect through memes ‘cause everyone else is? Look at the bottom of a selfie, and often you’ll see the actual hashtag “selfie”. That hashtag is a connecting element. Click on it, and it goes to a page full of others doing the same. In a way, it connects us to other people. In this physical-interaction-level disconnected world where we’re namely talking through technology, maybe that’s this new wave’s way of trying to connect with others at all. Many aren’t willing to make time to meet up because they’ve got something easier they can do from their asses. Yet they long for some sliver of social mingling. So mimicking the connection of something like a mixer can happen through hashtags or comment threads, while channeling the expressions we believe we’d use in an actual conversation can happen through our own captured expressive reflections.
Let’s consider someone who was a bit psychopathic and who did take a lotsa selfies:
Elliot Rodger. California campus killer. Ultimate self-objectification. This Zoolander-meets-Patrick-Bateman kid was convinced his good grooming alone (despite accessing nothing on the inside of himself but hatred) would land him a lady (and that having a lady was the ultimate happiness answer). When he came to learn he was multi-level wrong about that, he wrote a manifesto and did some university murder as revenge against them for his erroneous belief system. Now, I read that manifesto (Well, half. It was just as crazy long as it was crazy). And you want to know what? Rodger started out alright. Then his parents split – and that had a little impact. He felt left out of school – and, yeah, that had a little impact. But you know when the real change came for him? When he got World of Warcraft, holed away in his basement, and stopped even trying to connect with the other kids at school anymore – honing his faux identity instead. Our online identities – selfies, WOW, whatever – are a collective attempt at human connection.
For those using it to replace reality, it just gets grossly distorted into an avatar version of ourselves.
So maybe it’s not that excessive selfies are a sign of psychopathy.
But that psychopathy’s a prize we all might win for supplanting the tangible interaction with Platonic cave shadows.