When Selfies Are Bad For You (And When They're Not)
Kim Kardashian may have published the first-ever book of selfies (yes, really, and it's appropriately titled Selfish), but this weekend, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson broke the Guinness World Record for selfies, snapping 105 in three minutes with fans.
Watch out, Kim Kardashian: You have some serious selfie competition. Kardashian mayÂ have published the first-ever book of selfies (yes, really, and it's appropriatelyÂ titledÂ Selfish), but this weekend, Dwayne "The Rock" JohnsonÂ broke the Guinness World Record for selfies, snapping 105 in three minutes with fans.
You'd think that attending the London premiere of his latest film,Â San Andreas, would have been enough excitement but, no. And that's the issue with our Selfie Nation: We get so focused on snapping photos,Â it tends to distract us from the present,Â says psychiatrist Gail Saltz, MD, a Health contributing editor. "If you're constantly taking selfies at an event you're not fully immersed in the moment, and it can detract from the satisfaction and joy," she notes.
Picture yourself selfie-ing away at, say, a great party you attended or on a fabulous trip you took and consider whether at times you were more focused on getting a great shotâ€”or having fun. Exactly.
Belfies (theÂ butt selfie) andÂ helfies (hair selfies) pose another hazard: "Regularly obsessing about perfectionÂ can further reinforce body image issues," says Dr. Saltz. In fact, men who overshare selfies in social media score higher on tests for narcissism and psycopathy, to boot, per a recent study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Then, there are the potential relationshipÂ downsides. A 2013 research paper from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom found that people who regularly post photos of themselves on Facebook risk alienating friends, family, and colleagues (along withÂ vast quantities of strangersÂ worldwide, as the Kim Kardashian has proven). And of course, ignoring your surroundings as you're snapping away can create other dangers, precisely theÂ reason the U.S. Forest Service warned visitors last fall to quit taking bear selfies.
Still, there are times when selfies can beÂ good for you. Take the healthie, in whichÂ someoneÂ photo-brags about their tough workout, toned muscles, yoga pose, green smoothie or otherÂ wellnessÂ scores. "Occasionally patting yourself on the back for health achievements in social media can propel you to keep them up," Dr. Saltz says, "especially if you get reinforcement from friends like 'Go you!'"
What plenty of usÂ do appreciate, however, is humor about a trend that sometimes takes itself too seriouslyâ€”it's why Kourtney Kardashian's sexyÂ photo of herself decked out inÂ breast pumps was such a breath of fresh air. It's also whyÂ people have been amusedÂ to readÂ about that elphie (elephant selfie, of course). The Thailand nativeÂ grabbed a tourist's GoPro and snapped a pic of the two of them.
Hey, how about an elphie belphie? Bring it!
Still, the truth is we could all use moreÂ breaks from our smartphones toÂ spend theÂ time actuallyÂ living our lives.