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The Psychology of the Selfie (Video)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Valerie Arendt
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Tara Chandler is a member of NASW-NC


WLOS (Asheville, NC) Click here to see video.


 ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The social media phenomenon many of us are guilty of: the selfie.

These pictures have become a way of celebrating milestones, expressing thoughts and showing off a new hairstyle. But, when does the selfie become excessive, superficial or downright dangerous?

"I feel like everyone I'm friends with loves selfies," Fernando Gigi, a Senior at TC Roberson High School, said.

Nearly all of us can admit to the posts that clog up our social media feeds or consume our friends' and children's lives.

"Some of my friends, they take selfies often. One of them, in particular, is kind of Facebook-famous. He's always doing that," Aaron Rodriguez, another Senior at TC Roberson, said. "I've slept over at his house, he just wakes up taking selfies."

These pictures are usually harmless fun, sometimes prompting a little teasing, but the saying that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' may be especially true when the subject is you.

"I think selfies put the perception out there that things are good. Things are easy," Tara Chandler, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, said.

Chandler works with teens and young adults often struggling for a sense of belonging. To her, an excessive amount of selfie-taking is a warning sign. As she explains one young person who told her about hundreds of selfies taken in one day, she expressed concern.

"That's a child struggling to connect with the real world in a real way," Chandler said.

Chandler says she's seen selfies blur the lines between perception and reality.

"That is their way of saying, 'Here I am. Here I am having fun. Here's my fantasy world. Here's the image of me having fun. Here's the life that I want to have, whether I actually have it or not, here it is.'"

Just as the excessive amount of selfie posts can cause concern over that person's inner struggles, they can also reveal genuine effort to better one's self. Sometimes, the environment you're in has a lot to do with the selfie you take. If you're posting about real-life habits, the impacts can be beneficial. The gym, for example, is where putting the focus on yourself may pay off.

"You know, it might be a good accountability tool," Wendy Rosche, Personal Trainer and Co-Owner of Plank Fitness in Asheville, said.

Clients at Plank Fitness are encouraged to post about their progress and healthy choices. Rosche says the posts and pictures are ways a person can gather proof of the progress he or she is making. Selfies, she says, are a way of boosting confidence, staying on track and getting your community in on your fitness goals.

"I think, maybe, they see that it's possible. They see that someone, a friends of theirs, may have carved a minute off their mile or do an extra pull-up that they hadn't done before," Rosche said.

So, for the next selfie you snap, consider the contrast between the image you capture and the one you project.

For parents concerned about their children's selfie-taking, Chandler recommends being friends with your kids on social media and monitoring what they're posting. She says it helps those parents have a better understanding of what their children are dealing with.

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