I have never got around to perfecting that quintessential selfie pout nor do I intend to twist my face into the most distorted and contorted proportions. I am camera shy and often beg not to be photographed, (if it can be helped), but then I do feel a little ashamed for not bowing down to the Selfitis phenomenon that is sweeping the town off its feet!
Just recently Nitin Gadkari the Union Minister for Transport appeared on television urging owners of smartphones to use them carefully and responsibly, that too after a short video clip showing a graphic scene of a man who was crushed to death as he was taking a selfie and did not see the vehicle that killed him, his children were weeping for him.
Ancient Philosophers and great thinkers would have termed this obsession with one’s appearance as Narcissism. Before the advent of the smart phone with its gift of a front phone and a rear phone, people were obsessed with how they looked and they used mirrors to ensure that not even one of the locks of their well-maintained hair was out f place. No wonder, I recall seeing bike mirrors angled favourably towards the rider’s face and not the road behinds. The mitigating factor in the good old days was that people could take a look at their faces in the safety of their houses using the bedroom mirror or the one in the bathroom.
Psychiatrists these days are viewing the obsession for taking selfies with concern and they have termed this behaviour as ‘Selfitis’. They are, however, not ready to call it a standalone disease because they believe that Selfitis is the symptom of a disease that is formed of numerous other factors.
A very large number of deaths have taken place in India itself especially on roads and railway lines. In most of the cases, it was because the victims were so engrossed while taking their selfies that they did not see the train coming from the other direction. What made things worse was that they were so involved with the selfie that they did not hear the loud horn of the train coming from the opposite direction!
The need to take selfies on a regular basis might attain the extreme proportions of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, also termed as the ‘Lady Macbeth effect’. Of course, Shakespeare was aware of OCD and thus he described how Lady Macbeth would constantly wash her hands. In many cases, OCD and thus Selfitis can be exacerbated by poor self-esteem. Self-esteem might, in turn, be the result of rejection in the family and the society, or perhaps even not being able to conform to popular demands. As a contrast, Selfitis might also be the result of conformism and the need to do as others do, it might also be the result of FOMO or fear of moving out (fear of being left out).
A modified self-esteem scale, of the Rosenberg scale, will help the reader understand why people are prone to Selfitis. Ipostedpasted a few questions below. For those who score more than one for each question might be more prone to take selfies.
Self-Esteem Scale QuestionnaireName:_________________________
Mobile Number: ________________
E-mail Id.: ___________________
Self Esteem Scale 1 2 3 4
1. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself SA A D SD
2. At times, I think I am no good at all. * SA A D SD
3. I feel that I have a number of good qualities. SA A D SD
4. I am able to do things as well as most other people. SA A D SD
5. I feel I don’t have much to be proud of. * SA A D SD
6. I certainly feel useless at times.* SA A D SD
7. I feel that I’m a person of some worth, at least on an equal plane
with others. SA A D SD
8. I wish I could have more respect for myself. * SA A D SD
9. All in all, I am inclined to feel as if I am a failure.* SA A D SD
10. I feel good about myself. SA A D SD
11. I feel very happy to be in the company of friends. SA A D SD
12. My friends look forward to meeting me. SA A D SD
13. Large social gatherings thrill me as I get to meet new people. SA A D SD
14. I don’t like being in the company of friends.* SA A D SD
SA- Strongly Agree
A - Agree
D - Disagree
SD – Strongly Disagree
To measure the self-esteem, score as follows:
1. A total score of 14 is an indication of strong self-esteem. Note: for questions ending in a ‘*’ mark, the SA option will be counted as a four, while and SD will become one.
2. A total score of 15-28 could be an indication of a fair amount of self-esteem. Note for questions ending in a ‘*’, SA will be counted as four, A will be counted as three, D will be counted as two and SD will be counted as one.
3. A total score of 29-42 could be an indication of poor self-esteem. Note for questions with a ‘*’ mark,
SA will be counted as four, A will be counted as three, D will be counted as two and SD will be counted as one.
4. A total score of 43-56 could be an indication of very poor self-esteem
It is not claimed that the scores indicated through the questionnaire are conclusive and final since it is not possible for self-esteem to be accurately analysed through a single questionnaire. For better accuracy in measurement, the subject will have to go through a battery of questionnaires. This article, however, is an attempt to suggest how people with poor self-esteem might be prone to be compulsive selfie takers, as they might be able to gain some kind of self-reassurance by taking as many selfies as possible.
To gain credibility, the modified Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale scores should be followed by a questionnaire that will attempt to record the frequency of selfie’s taken over a given period of time. A correlation between the Self Esteem Scale scores and selfie frequency score might be indicative of the assumption that poor self-esteem is indicated in a high frequency of selfies taken by the subject.
A typical Selfitis Questionnaire is given below:
Mobile Number: ________________
E-mail Id.: ___________________
1. Are you on any Social Networking site? (yes/no)
2. Do you engage in clicking selfies? (yes/no)
3. Do you edit your selfies before posting them on Social Networking sites? (yes/no)
4. Do you invest a great deal of time in attaining the right/perfect selfie and then post it on a Social Networking site? (yes/no)
5. Do you post more selfies than groupies? (yes/no)
6. Do you think you have been taking an excessive number of selfies (ten or more in a day) but feel helpless about it? (yes/no)
7. Does your selfie habit impede on other important activities like studies, relationships, personal interactions, and sleep? (yes/no)
8. Do you click a minimum of three selfies in a day and not post them on Social Networking sites? (Yes/no)
9. Do you click a minimum of three selfies in a day and post them on Social Networking Sites? (yes/no)
10. So you have an unstoppable urge to click selfies most of the times in a day to post them on Social Networking sites? (yes/no)
11.Does this feedback form on your selfie behaviour make you feel uncomfortable? (yes/no)
12. Does the positive feedback you receive about the selfies posted on Social Media make you feel happy? (yes/no)
13. Is your selfie habit driven by a feeling of self-accomplishment or is it driven by the fact that it is a socially accepted behaviour? (yes/no)
14. Do you think that your selfie habit is driven by your need to be accepted by your friends? (yes/no)
15. Do you think positive feedback on your selfies gives you a strong self-esteem? (yes/no)
16. Have you at any time in life faced a threat or danger to your personal well-being because of your selfie habit? (yes/no)
17. Have you ever felt empowered while taking a selfie in a dangerous situation (at the metro station, close to a railway line, or while crossing a busy road)? (yes/no)
Note: Having zero to five affirmatives in the questionnaire indicates negligible interest in taking selfies.Having five to nine affirmative answers might indicate an obsessive need to take selfies. Similarly having between ten to seventeen affirmative answers could mean that the subject has a serious problem with the selfie habit. Respondents who are more interested in posting groupies will be less affected by the selfie syndrome.
Special thanks to Aastha Rebecca Lal for sharing data and concerns regarding the phenomena called 'Selfitis' an obsession for taking selfies.
To conclude, posted below are a few quotes titles or headlines on Selfitis:
Selfie and narcissism
Instagram users admit they’ve created the most narcissistic social network on the planet
Published: Aug 11, 2017 11:18 a.m. ET
Selfie and narcissism
Hey, Guys: Posting a Lot of Selfies Doesn’t Send a Good Message
Posting more online photos of yourself may suggest anti-social traits
By: Jeff Grabmeier
Published on January 06, 2015
Selfies and narcissism
Carolyn Gregoire The Huffington
Love 'em or hate 'em, selfies are harmless fun -- right? Maybe not. Per new research, selfies can say a lot about your personality, and not in a good way.
So Much Of Beauty Is Fake News, So Why Are We Still Sucked In?
Last Updated September 2, 2017, 9:30 PM