Mental Health

Professor Calls Selfie Stick An ‘Isolator’ That Promotes Narcissism And Self-Absorption

selfie stick on a hipster
Selfie sticks: hand-held tripods, or symbols of narcissism and isolation in this technology-driven world? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The selfie stick is becoming quite a popular accessory to smartphones, allowing people to attach their phone to the end of a $30 metal rod to improve their ability to take photos of themselves. Some say it’s the newest symbol of millennial narcissism and self-absorption; others merely claim it’s convenient.

Jesse Fox, an assistant professor of communications at the Ohio State University, believes the selfie stick will further isolate this generation and those to come. “It’s a thing that couples and families are using so that they can fit everyone and the full background in their photo without passing their phone off to a stranger,” Fox told The Lantern, OSU’s student newspaper. “But it’s definitely cutting down that social interaction of ‘Oh, will you take a photo for us if we take one for you?’ among people.”

Fox also examined selfie narcissism in a recent study. She found that men who spend a lot of time editing and posting selfies had a higher score on the narcissism scale and create self-objectification, which involves posters to value themselves only for their appearance rather than other personality or character traits. This led to the conclusion that selfie-taking men were more likely to exhibit psychopathic qualities. Certainly not positive news for those Internet kids who share moments of their lives on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr.

“It really comes down to people wanting other people to approve how smart and beautiful and wonderful they are by ‘liking’ their Facebook or Instagram photos,” Fox said, according to The Lantern.

But perhaps it’s not always about isolation, insecurities, and narcissism — just because millennials are on Instagram doesn’t mean they’re too self-absorbed to accomplish anything (and if anything, there have always been and will always be narcissists; selfies and selfie sticks just make it easier to spot them).

It’s true that this generation is notorious for sharing thoughts about themselves and their lives (and bragging via status update and delectable travel photos on Instagram), but nothing about fundamental human character has changed since ancient times. 50 years ago, people collected physical film photos and placed them in photo albums to look at fondly; today, the Internet and technology allow us to share these things in a communal space that assists in the exchange of ideas.

That being said, maybe it’s time for selfie-takers to step outside of themselves and take a look at the world around them. Besides, selfie sticks are becoming the quickest way to spot a tourist: “They’re the new fanny pack,” Sarah Kinling told NOLA.com. “The more I saw them in use, the more I saw how much focus people were putting on selfies, and not turning around to see what they were there to see.”

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