Everybody has them as a friend or maybe a distant relative or contact. They mostly turn out to be women, in my case, but apparently there are plenty of guys posting selfie after selfie too. However, now, the people who raise their eyebrows with every selfie -- usually accompanied by a pile of hashtags and love heart emojis -- can take solace. The selfie obsession is being offered as proof that people are unwittingly taking themselves straight back to adolescence. This is not just a bunch of middle-aged grumps talking -- it's the finding of celebrated psychoanalyst Elsa Godart.
The pictures that are so often wrapped up under a headline of showing the person at a venue or with a new hairstyle or outfit are, she confirms, thinly veiled attempts to get validation from friends. It is this, "do they like me" or "am i popular" question that takes persistent selfie posters straight back to the days of high school. The thing is, Godart points outs in her book I Selfie, Therefore I Am, we are too nostalgic about our adolescence. It is a time of great uncertainty and change where we don't feel in control as we look for comforting words and reassurance from those around us. That is exactly the phase selfie-obsesses people are taking themselves back to, and it's not necessarily a good thing.
Interestingly, Godart points out that people obsessed with their own image probably are narcissists, but argues that's not too bad a thing because we all grow up fascinated by our reflection in the mirror or our image in photographs. It's more the stage that comes next, of constantly worrying about what people think about us and looking for validation, which is far more uncomfortable for a social media user to revisit.
By the way, a self-obsessed Millennial is likely to take more than 25,000 self portraits in their lifetime, she estimates. In so doing, they may actually expose themselves to real danger, far worse than nobody liking their latest "just back from the gym" look. It turns out that more people will die from selfies than shark attacks. Not that pictures kill, of course, but apparently there have been a spate of people walking into roads, trains and falling off cliffs as they struggle to get the perfect angle and get the best shot of their surroundings.
So just in case you were a fellow grump wondering "is it just me", you can rest assured that a well-known psychoanalyst has taken a look back down the lens at persistent selfie takers and found they really are self-obsessed narcissists who, unfortunately, are unwittingly revisiting a stage in life that most of us are pretty glad to have behind us, and not spattered throughout our social feeds.