Why Do People Risk Lives for the Perfect Selfie?


Photo courtesy of www.memes.com

2016 hasn’t been a great year for the selfie.

In February, Argentinian tourists passed around a baby La Plata dolphin in order to take selfies with it. The endangered animal subsequently died from stress and heat exhaustion. Then, in early March, a swan died after a tourist dragged it from a lake in Macedonia – all for the sake of a selfie, according to theconversation.com.

Turns out people will go to great lengths, risking life and limb, to capture the perfect shot of themselves. Officials in Russia recently launched a campaign warning of the dangers of selfies after a number of selfie-related injuries and deaths occurred in the country. For instance, one Russian teenager died while trying to take a selfie on a railway bridge, according to yahoo.com/news.

According to cw33.com, the average teen is obsessed with taking selfies because they are narcissistic, meaning inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity, according to dictionary.com.

“Each one of us is a narcissist to some extent, but those who are very selfie-oriented are more narcissistic than the average person,” said psychologist Dr Aruna Broota. “Their emotional immaturity does not allow such people to foresee the dangers they are putting themselves into,” she explained.

Dr Sameer Malhotra, director and head, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Max Hospitals, says the personality profile of an individual is important in such cases. “If you’re high on thrill-seeking experiences, perhaps you would put yourself in such a situation. Such people should seek help and look for the underlying problem – be it a personality disorder or impulse control issue. Those with an obsessive streak tend to become obsessed with selfie taking,” he stated.

Mental health experts attribute these selfie-related incidents to an unhealthy obsession with technology. Dr Malhotra says he gets three to four cases daily of Internet addiction. “The affected age group ranges from 11 to 25. There are kids who neglect their studies and personal hygiene due to gaming or Net addiction.”

Dr Broota, who treats not just adolescents with body image issues aggravated by social media but even office-going adults for social media addiction, says people are hooked to the Net to the point of being dysfunctional. “People are stuck to their phones, are on Facebook, WhatsApp all day and night. Then they can’t get up in time for school or college in the morning,” she stated.

However, Dr Samir Parikh, psychiatrist and director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare, believes selfie addiction is not an illness yet. “These things happen because while taking selfies these people are so engrossed in the act that they do not take the necessary precautions. It is not about doing something extreme, it is about lack of attention.” While public awareness campaigns may help make selfie enthusiasts more cautious, it would do most people good to spend some time away from their phones.

“Time yourself on the Net, increase your social activities, find a hobby,” advises Dr Parikh.