A Few days ago, I got an opportunity to witness the Russian dance performance, Swan Lake Ballet at the JLN stadium. Luckily and coincidentally, Sharmila Tagore was sitting in the row next to mine. Instead of approaching her and talking about her movie "Chupke Chupke"(one of my favorite), my first reaction was to confirm that she is Sharmila Tagore, and the next was to click a selfie which turns out to be like this :D
True that, In the culture focused on “self,” “self-ies” have become so popular.
Once back home, I researched on internet about this behavior. And a term I found was Selfitis, which means obsession of taking selfies on smartphones. As per the article published in Business standard, it may be a real disorder that requires treatment. As per the study by Nottingham Trent University in the UK and the Thiagarajar School of Management(TSM) in Tamil Nadu in 2014 claiming 'selfitis' had been classed as a genuine mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. India was chosen since there are highest number of facebook users. They have now confirmed the existence of this disorder and developed the 'Selfitis Behaviour Scale'.
As per this scale, six motivating factors were identified, with selfitis sufferers typically seeking to increase their self-confidence, seek attention, improve their mood, connect with the environment around them (to create a record of memories), increase their conformity with the social group around them, as well as being socially competitiveness.
These reasons worked out in the study cover more or less all the possibilities.
Probably, selfies are a reflection of the contemporary culture which has made people self-obsessed. We have a Prime Minister who himself has promoted this culture, validation from the high echelons. And we Indians especially the youth have definitely taken him as our role model in the instant case. Selfie diplomacy has reached another level in the global arena. On another positive note, under the head of Beti Bachao Beti Padao, selfie with daughter in Haryana has taken a great stride. On similar lines, Delhi based NGO Save Indian Family launched 'selfie with father' campaign to bring together children from broken families and the fathers.
But personally, I think, Selfie has micro contribution in capturing the view behind except focusing on some zoomed-in faces. The advantage of this phenomenal invention of 21st century is that – you don’t need to request someone else to click your own picture. Everyone of us must have experienced requests at some tourist spot from a couple or a group of people to click a photo. Thanks to selfie, these impositions have declined drastically.
Many of the remarkable days like Father's day, mother's day, Valentines day use selfie as the platform for demonstrating their celebration.
The market has not taken the risk to lose the consumer base by ignoring these trends. The technological developments in selfie camera are way faster than in the rear camera. Selfie camera comes with variety of beautification, flash features. Roadside shops which earlier used to sell charger, cable, earphones are full of Selfie sticks now. Social media websites have launched various selfie variants to satisfy the consumer base with the pleasure of self appreciation. Facebook selfie frames, google hangout features, beautify app, and whatsapp emojis are a few of the examples.
Why has there been a craze amongst people since its advent?
No offence, but we humans by nature are self obsessed and narcissists of different degrees. It's more than admiring oneself. We want to be loved and accepted. When we post a selfie for the world to see, we eagerly await for the likes and comments and admiration to show up from friends or any other digital soul.
We want to matter. We want these digital souls to think that “wow, that person has an exciting life".
A few people also blame "peer pressure" to post selfies. And some follow the popular belief that if there is no picture of an event or experience, it did not really happen.
Last but most importantly, we want connection. Connection with the moment, connection with the person, connection with the object, we want to label and timestamp that memory.
These selfie lovers, enjoy the instant-fame and the notional happiness from the likes & comments they get from the digital world, without knowing that it is just a mirage – as good as optical illusion.
So, What's wrong with this generations' entertainment self validation tool?
At times the concept of taking a selfie becomes crazy and pointless when people use this technology to click photos where they should not be clicking them. A person is drowning in a pond and people are taking selfies with the injured instead of helping him out. As if, there is some attendance going on, that you witnessed that incident. Few years back, a person accidently got into the Tiger's cage in Delhi zoo, many of the videos circulated over internet were selfie videos. Many accidents happening while taking selfies. As per a study, India has had the highest number of selfie-related deaths, 60 per cent of all “selfie deaths”.
Not just that, people keep clicking pictures until they are satisfied with the result. They are satisfied once they feel its perfect. But when their definition of perfect does not fit the real picture it only increases their pressure and stress.
Has this problem been recognized?
Yes, the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, has advised all states and union territories to identify tourist attractions, which are prone to accidents and erect signs warning visitors of the dangers involved in taking selfies at such spots. Clicking a selfie at ‘Sunset point’ or ‘Echo point’ or ‘Suicide point’ is a bad idea. The Govt. wants to prevent incidents by setting up “Selfie Danger ones” or “Selfie Restriction Zones” at tourist sight-seeing locations. There are many devices in line which gives selfie alert sensing the probability of danger zone based on height, depth etc. The most important thing is sanity while becoming technology addict. There is no need to stop the habit, it’s a fun activity. But we should where to draw the lines. If you want to be happy with the admiration, likes on social media, you should live long to enjoy that. And to live long, you should keep creativity tamed.
Be a responsible clicker, Happy Selfies!