Selfies and Snapchat: The Secret Exhibitionist?

Snapchat addicts assemble! Louise Clancy discusses the new worldwide craze and questions if we have reached a selfie overload.

Since the conception of social media, there has been a huge phenomenon among young people in particular: selfies. A selfie has been defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken of oneself with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”. They can either be taken individually or as group selfies.

It seems like everywhere you go, people are taking selfies. From concerts to nights out, they feel compelled to document themselves while having the craic in a public bathroom, while you are innocently washing your hands. These days it feels impossible to stay away from these happy snappers!

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Approximately 350 million photos are sent on Snapchat every day.

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Let me make it clear that selfies are perfectly fine, provided that you do not overdo it. If you have a handful of pictures from nights out or from hanging out with your friends to capture fun times, that is acceptable. However, people will grow tired of your Facebook albums entitled “Random”, mostly set in your bathroom and/or bedroom (pretty much anywhere with a mirror); with the weirdly angled camera, excess makeup and fake tan, inappropriate clothes, duckface and the misused peace sign. These people are known as “Bebo Stunners”. It can get even more annoying when people take selfies for the sole purpose of fishing for compliments. They do this by taking a selfie and uploading it, saying that they are “ugly” in the particular picture, and waiting for people to like the photo and comment on how “pretty” they actually are. It is as bad as headache-inducing text speak, and stupidly cryptic posts about how everything in life has gone horrifically wrong for them. I bet every person reading this knows at least one person who is a born and bred “Bebo Stunner”.

The amount of websites where we can share everything about ourselves in a visual way has increased significantly including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and most recently, Snapchat. For those out of the loop, Snapchat is a social media app available on most smartphone devices, set up in 2011 by Stanford University students as part of their college project. What Snapchat does is allow you to take and send photos to other Snapchat users with optional captioning and/or ink drawings. The unique selling point of Snapchat is when the recipient views the photo message, it can only be seen for a certain limit (maximum 10 seconds) before the photo deletes itself.

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People will grow tired of your Facebook albums entitled “Random”, mostly set in your bathroom and/or bedroom.

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It has been reported that approximately 350 million photos are sent on Snapchat every day. Many photos are used for sharing with your friends including silly looking selfies and other amusing photos. However, Snapchat is quickly gaining a reputation as a sexting app. Of course, explicit selfies occur on many websites, but Snapchat has become the most notorious. Some people choose to send explicit pictures of themselves via Snapchat due to the photo message being temporary, therefore there is no proof of the photos. What some people do not realise is that you can screenshot and save photos from Snapchat. This makes it even riskier if the picture goes viral, which can have huge consequences on your reputation and your career prospects.

People have debated over selfies whether they are harmless fun or extreme narcissism. By taking these selfies, are we exposing too much of ourselves online? Are we representing ourselves in a positive or negative light? Most importantly, is this online exhibitionism a complete waste of time? What matters most is that you should not focus too much about how you look, but how you act online. If you think carefully before posting and be yourself in a natural way, it will be self-exhibitionism in the best way possible.