19-year-old Danny Bowman was so obsessed with selfies that he dropped out of school because he kept trying to take the perfect picture. Sometimes spending as many as 10 hours a day on his quest, Bowman tried to kill himself by overdosing, but was saved by his mother, who took him to a psychiatrist that diagnosed him with body dysmorphic disorder. He continues his road to recovery.
And because of this story, we now have what is known as selfie addiction. Although, when you read that first paragraph, I think you should remember that Danny was suffering from body dysmorphic disorder which drove his selfie taking. The addiction to the selfie wasn’t what was driving him. The root cause of his 200 plus selfies a day was his body dysmorphic disorder. And that brings us to the next point.
Do selfies build up a body dysmorphic disorder? Do they create in individuals an almost obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to the way they look? Is it the selfie addiction that causes this or is it an iphone addiction? A social media addiction?
Regardless of the answers to those questions the truth is our culture today is becoming dependent on social media and smart phones. With each “like” we get a rush. In fact we put so much emphasis on likes that you could consider a like or the absence of one, the equivalent of rejection or love.“Like” is a way to give positive feedback or to connect with things you care about on Facebook. You can like content that your friends post to give them feedback or like a Page that you want to connect with on Facebook.” A like is a type of virtual empathy. And it has become more and more laden with importance in our social world. For instance, if you don’t get enough likes you are often left feeling unloved. Get a lot of likes and the feeling of love is ten fold. It is a validation.
And then we also put so much importance on this little like that we often stop to wonder if we should like something, wondering if it would be weird, or about how well we know the person whose media we are about to like. One man did a study where he just liked everyone’s photos on Instagram. The results were astounding. He recieved twice as many likes back. Some other individuals tried it and what they found was that they hesitated on some people’s posts because they didn’t want individuals to think they were hitting on them or they didn’t want them to think they were weird etc. But sure enough as soon as they did it, they received likes in return. People wanted to reciprocate the feeling. They almost felt obligated in a type of digital politeness, to give back love. And as for the hesitation due to the huge importance of the like now days, well its really kind of funny, but it is also true. We hesitate because the like means so much more than it did, what, like 10 years ago? Likes have become really important. Likes have become the symbols of love, friendship, pats on the back, smiles, and even flirtation.
There is a definite psychology behind all social media. And it’s this same psychology that allows marketers to boost their numbers, it’s the same psychology that is slowly causing our brains to change. Over time we have begun to “adapt” if you will, to a new kind of social interaction that is known as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. In the new digital age, and with connection still of absolute importance to human survival, we have all learned a new way to connect. And sometimes that can become a problem. It is fascinating to say the least. Just remember though, the next time you are waiting for likes or hesitating to like someone’s pic, or don’t want to post that selfie or do post another selfie-that it is digital. Behind all of this is just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s in succession creating what we see as a reality. Numbers creating emotions. Keep that in mind, and enjoy your day on Facebook. And your selfies look great.