Thanks to ubiquitous camera phones, selfies—like 'em or loathe 'em—are now simply standard Internet operating procedure. No doubt *yours* are empowering and totally not irritating to your friends and followers. But it seems that, combined with something like body dysmorphic disorder, selfies can be more harm than help.
The Mirror has the story of one troubled teen, whose body dysmorphic disorder and OCD played out through an obsession with the perfect selfie. He took 200 photos a day and lost 40 pounds in the quest to look perfect, and ultimately almost overdosed on pills. He told the Mirror:
"People don't realise when they post a picture of themselves on Facebook or Twitter it can so quickly spiral out of control. It becomes a mission to get approval and it can destroy anyone."
It's a sad story. But it's more than that, says the Mirror—it's a BURGEONING CRISIS:
But Danny is not some bizarre one-off case in a world where smartphone and social media obsession is spiralling upwards. The top psychiatrist at the clinic where Danny was treated revealed addiction to taking selfies is becoming so widespread it is now is a recognised mental illness.
"Danny's case is particularly extreme," said Dr David Veal who's clinic has weaned the teen off his iPhone. "But this is a serious problem. It's not a vanity issue. It's a mental health one which has an extremely high suicide rate."
OK, obviously the Mirror is not the New York Times. It's not even the Daily Mail. And this sounds less like good science than an attempt to piggyback on a growing moral panic (sample headlines: Sharing the (self) love: the rise of the selfie and digital narcissism; The Selfie Craze: Are We Becoming a Narcissistic Nation?). Nor are selfies all blatantly approval-seeking. Look at the rise of the not-pretty version and its most entertainingly extreme instance, the sellotape selfie.
But it doesn't seem entirely ridiculous to suggest that, if someone's constantly posting nothing but perfectly composed selfies, it maybe springs from worrisome impulses. Thailand's department of mental health agrees, its director warning the country's youth that:
"Paying too much attention to one's shared selfies by continuing to check on who sees or comments on them in the hope of getting the most likes as possible is a sign that selfies are causing problems for them, including a possible lack of self-confidence,"
Selfies selfies selfies? Selfies, selfies selfies selfies. Selfies!
Anyway, have a cat video:
Photo via Shutterstock.