From Bradley Cooper’s noteworthy Oscars selfie to David Ortiz’s selfie with President Barack Obama, using a smartphone to snap a quick photo of yourself and others has become such a cultural need that “selfie” became the 2013 word of the year. Although snapping a few photos with friends, notable personalities, and of course, ourselves, seems like a fun way to capture memories, it could turn into a deadly habit. Psychologists such as Dr. David Veal believe selfies can become an addiction for people who already have certain psychological illnesses.
The growing trend can become a serious problem and pose fatal health risks. “It’s not a vanity issue. It’s a mental health one which has an extremely high suicide rate,” Veal told Mirror News. The doctor’s clinic has helped the most recent victim of selfie addiction, 19-year-old Englishman Danny Bowman, who developed an obsession with selfies and posting them on social media since the age of 15. The teenager, who’s been diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder spent 10 hours a day taking up to 200 photos of himself. “This wouldn't happen if it wasn't in the media age,” Bowman said in the Daybreak video. “This is a very new thing, selfies.”
Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, promote the cultural need for selfies with functionality tools that encourage uploading photos onto the page. Moreover, people who post more frequently on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have scored higher for certain narcissistic traits. With modern technology, developing a selfie addiction can be quite severe, but Bowman raised another issue in his interview with Daybreak. He believes the bigger issue is about the way people look at mental illness in general. The words “vanity” have been used by multiple commenters on several websites to describe the teenager’s potentially dangerous addiction.
Since his treatment, Bowman has been seven months selfie-free. He now wants to raise awareness of the potential health dangers of selfies.