Selfies: Are they Good or Bad for Individuals and Society?

A Selfy is a self-portrait of one’s body. This phenomenon involves taking photos of one’s body or looking at one’s photo on a mirror. This is carried out in an attempt to hype oneself. It is a new phenomenon created by the new media devices. Taking Selfies has become a prominent practice in the world today. Some superstars and well known personalities are photographing their own portraits and posting them in social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Tikok and Twitter. There are several arguments about selfies; some people adore it and while others admonish them sharply. A CBC radio presentation involving three hosts ten years ago demonstrates the variation of views regarding selfies.

In the radio presentation, Sarah Nicole Pricket defends her position in support of Selfies while Andrew Keen strongly opposes it sharply claiming that the phenomenon is quite absurd (CBC Radio, 2013). On the other hand, Hal Niedzviecki seems to be a bit neutral. The three guests to CBC radio indicate how this issue of Selfies plays a center stage in controversial propositions for and against the act of taking Selfies.

Sarah Nicole Pricket argues that given the fact that the current world economy is in danger, one always opts to do something in order to forget about their problems and make their selves happy. She claims that the best way to do this is to look at your own body in the mirror, take some portrays of yourself and be happy. This is what Hal calls a narcissistic behaviour in which one is trying to have some undue fascination of himself or herself, which is always actually in vain. Hal claims that the habit is neither bad nor good (CBC Radio, 2013). He holds that we should try to understand ourselves and try to be ourselves. He views having Selfies as a way of gaining attention, attempting to get better jobs by making oneself appear good through self-portraits on the internet, personal branding, and a way of marketing ourselves. He criticizes the habit as having the potential of making us counterproductive in the long run. He observes that as much as we try to make ourselves appear appealing on social media, what we get in the end is negative view from the society. For instance, when we create Selfies and post on social media, such images may be used against us later when we try to seek for some jobs.

On his part, Andre is sharply opposed to Selfies, terming them as a tribulation of oneself and quite embarrassing. He considers the poses portrayed in Selfies as being absurd and one of the demeaning habits of the digital culture or the new media (CBC Radio, 2013). He also claims that Selfies talk more of how we present ourselves; the loss of dignity and a show of bad legacy. He contends that in future when we look back and see what we have done, we may not like the legacy we have left. He therefore condemns the use of Selfies to fascinate oneself.

According Marshall McLuhan’s tetrad model on media, adoption of new media communicative channels such as Selfies may lead to several effects which can be summarized into four categories. These categories are: what the medium enhances what the medium erodes, what the medium retrieves from the past and what the medium reverses (Lamberti, 2012). In our case of Selfies, we can say that Selfies as a medium of communication enhances embarrassment, tribulation and Narcissism. These enhancements make someone to be viewed negatively by the society, a negative effect on digital culture. Selfies also erode dignity, respect and reputation of someone on the view of the society. Similarly, the medium also reverses the cultural nature of positive interaction in the media. It also reverses self-respect and self-esteem habits and makes it a narcissistic practice. Finally, the medium retrieves body language to communicate information which was used before other audio-visual media channels were introduced. This model helps us to know what Selfies has caused in human life and it has been seen to indicate that Selfies reflects an erosion of moral culture and engagement in self-destructing digital culture. Marshall McLuhan’s tetrad model has therefore helped us to analyse the criticisms and propositions of Selfies as a medium of communication.

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