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Selfies: More than Just a Picture?

Selfies: More than Just a Picture?

“Selfie:” the common act of taking a picture of yourself with a smart phone, has climbed its way to the forefront of pop culture, even if it’s not an entirely new phenomenon. Warhol and Van Gogh were right there with self portraits, and former Secretary of State  Colin Powell released a selfie this past week that he took 60 years ago.

Still, the practice has become such a frequent and vital part of popular culture that the term “selfie” has been expanded to include group shots and outfits of the day (search #OOTD on Twitter or Instagram and there’s millions of examples) and earn an all-important place in Webster’s dictionary. But aside from the widespread acceptance, sense of fun and instant fame and gratification that accompanies what many view as a harmless practice, there might be a different side.

Too many selfies can lead to an inflated sense of self. Not to mention an overly detailed and distorted image of what one really looks like. Some selfies might even progress from being fun and innocent to provocative and revealing and ultimately result in  lower self-esteem later on.

TIME recently crowned Manhattan as the second most  “Selfiest City” in the world, taking a backseat only to Makati City in the Philippines. After examining hundreds of thousands of pictures, the magazine reported at least 202 Manhattan residents per 100,000 have taken a selfie at some point. A more startling statistic comes from the Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery’s annual findings on  plastic surgery, where they found that a large portion of plastic surgeons surveyed said that social media is driving over one-third of procedures.

Thus, while selfies are fun for socializing, they may be taken to the extreme and lead to emotional problems later on. Perhaps if you feel like you’ve become selfie obsessed, it’s time to take some time and click the camera off.

This post was written by Scott Krakower, DO, psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital.

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