The Selfie Paradox: No one really likes your selfies (but that doesn’t matter)

By Oliver Smith 10 February 2017

We're obsessed, but do people like seeing your mug?

You love taking photos of yourself but, we hate to break it to you, no one else really likes them…

To put it bluntly:

“Taking, posting, and viewing selfies has become a daily habit for many. At the same time, research revealed that selfies often evoke criticism and disrespect, and are associated with non-authenticity and narcissism.”

Or at least that’s the finding of Dr Sarah Diefenbach and Lara Christoforakos of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, who last month published the results of a study of over 200 people’s experiences and opinions of the photo-taking phenomenon.

Pot calling the kettle black

With selfies creeping into our lives, whether in art galleries or in political campaigns, you really can’t escape the temptation to snap one for Instagram every now and then.

Indeed 77% of people asked said they take selfies at least once a month, with 18.5% taking a weekly selfie.

But, despite taking so many themselves, 82% of people would like to see more “normal” pictures on their social media.

Selfies appear as a double-edged phenomenon.

Many said they felt other people’s selfies had a negative effect on their own self-esteem, and were merely superficial and inauthentic, according to Diefenbach and Christoforakos’s findings.

Funnily enough, people didn’t feel the same way about their own selfies.

While 90% said other people’s selfies were too self-promoting, only 46% said that of their own snaps.

People also think their own selfies are more authentic, ironic or funny compared to those they see on social media.

Selfie bias

Diefenbach and Christoforakos have labelled this phenomenon, the way we view our own selfies totally different to the way we see others, as The Selfie Paradox or “selfie bias” in their report.

But while we may be far more judgemental to others, and far more accepting to our own selfies, ultimately the researchers find that selfies are simply helping us to better express ourselves.

“In the end it might be all about fulfilling basic human needs (here: popularity, self-expression) in a way that feels good for people, does not reveal too much about deeper motivations and allows them to keep a positive self-view and image to others.”

Selfie on.