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TitleSelfies and the Search for Recognition. See for your Selfie.
TagsPsychology & Cognitive Science Digital & Social Media Social Media Selfie Narcissism
File Size998.4 KB
Total Pages14
Document Text Contents
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Looking at yourself in a mirror or depicting yourself in a self-portrait, a selfie, is a form of

reflection in which you distinguish yourself from other people and seek recognition of what is

unique about yourself. Photo:

It is an extension of the self-portrait and amateur photography‟s self-timer with which you

had ten seconds to set the timer, run in front of the camera, and position yourself – often in a

group with family, friends, or the like. What is new, therefore, is the word, and its emergence

is an expression of distinct changes in technology – in particular, digital cameras and

smartphones. As easy as pie, people can hold their ubiquitous cameras up in front of

themselves and friends or take a self-portrait with a webcam.

This also points us toward social media (and especially those characterized by pictures),

which have risen colossally in popularity and number of users in the last few years. We are

talking first and foremost about Instagram, but Flickr and Facebook are also a part of the total


Is this rise simply a result of technological innovation? Or is it because we no longer have

others to take pictures of us and, perhaps, no longer want others to take pictures of us? Or is

it because we would like to test our social interactions through our own picture, the selfie?

All these questions are part of the answer, but the final question is the most important – also

for what follows.

"#selfie" is connected with millions of pictures in social media, where many prefer a self-

portrait to a written approach when they want to express themselves. Through selfies, we

have an opportunity to evaluate ourselves in relation to others. They are used as a reflection

of our image of ourselves in which our external face meets our internal consciousness.

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reflection, we step into character and become individuals. And it is also an action by which

we become something „in ourselves.‟ We literally become unique.

Our ability to see ourselves when we look at ourselves is something uniquely human. By

being reflected in the mirror and in a picture – the selfie, we become different from all other

individuals despite the many common features in our faces. It is not for nothing that

reflection means to bend back, to mirror, and to think. In their mirror images, individuals

bend back toward themselves in order to observe themselves and their possible interaction

with others.

Through the sight of ourselves, we also get an opportunity to assess ourselves and think about

ourselves. In the mirror and the image of our self, our external face meets our internal

consciousness. When we look in the mirror or at a selfie, the face comes to possess us

because it shows the appearance to which we are bound – or wish to mask. We acquire self-

consciousness and, in a broader sense, self-reflection. How do I look to others? Will they

accept me?

The mirror stage (Jacques Lacan) is the phase in which children become self-conscious of

their adequacy or inadequacy in their mirror image and by comparing themselves with others

as mirrors. In the selfie, it is instead an adult or near-adult who is testing and seeking

acceptance and recognition from the outside world through a mirror image. The difference

between the mirror stage and selfies consists primarily in the fact that it is suddenly adults

who are seeking acceptance. Photos: #selfie

From "write oneself into being" to "picture oneself into being"
In 2007, in an article called “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites,” the anthropologist

Danah Boyd explained that one “writes oneself into being” in social media. That statement is

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Faces are presence and confirmation, physically and intellectually. Faces show the self‟s

bodily appearance. Faces provide space and personality to the many anonymous individuals,

places, and movements in a metropolis. It is also from the face that we primarily recognize

another human being in the bustle of the city.

We reveal ourselves through our gaze: to look another human being in the eyes is our most

intense and intimate form for communication. Here, words can be superfluous and

distracting. Only children, lovers, people who take selfies, are drunk or very angry may stare

intensely; that is, people who have not learned or who have forgotten good manners.

Therefore, there can be an almost disturbing intimacy in the presence displayed in a selfie.

We are not used to focusing on a face so closely and for such a long time. When our eyes

fasten on something (especially, a face in a selfie), it deviates from the eyes‟ natural, sporadic

pattern of movement in which focus is always moving and cannot be fixed on a particular

thing for a long time. It also deviates from our cultural and moral norms, which tell us that it

is not nice to stare or gape. These norms are dissolved with the selfie.

We are not used to people just staring. When our eyes fix on something – especially a face in

a selfie, it deviates from our eyes’ natural, sporadic pattern of movement in which focus is

always moving. This gives many selfies an unpleasantly insistent, almost pushy

expression. Photos: #selfie

Sociologist Sherry Turkle points out (in Alone Together) that the individual becomes fixed in

a permanent transitional situation. After an intimacy with parents, the child moves out into

the world and, in this journey, the child needs transitional objects – for example, a beloved

toy. Turkle sees the social media as this sort of transitional object. However, they do not lead

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