By MADIHA VIQUAR

The selfie or self-portrait photograph, has become more than a passing fad amongst most smartphone and social media users these days. Clicking away pictures of oneself at events, parties, weddings, restaurants and movies etc., and sharing them on social networking sites has gradually become the norm. What seems a bit surprising, however, is the fact that instead of losing force, the trend has only gained momentum over time and has turned into a fixation.

Narcissus, in Greek mythology, was a beautiful young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. He was so mesmerized by it that he could not leave it and continued staring at his own image until he died. The term ‘narcissism’ comes from Narcissus, and means admiring oneself, especially one’s appearance, excessively.

None of us, of course, are narcissists literally, but metaphorically, I think all of us are. Putting in extra effort while getting ready to take that perfect selfie, uploading it on social media immediately afterwards, and receiving countless “likes” and “comments” as a result, seem to be the ultimate objective we have. It is also surprising that not only youngsters, but a good number of adults and apparently mature people also engage in this activity. Even the thought of their privacy being invaded does not seem to have any effect on them. Although there are privacy settings for social networking services, our photographs can still be leaked and our privacy intruded. But it is unfortunate that we do not realize this.

Technological advancements appear to have played a pivotal role in escalating this obsession for selfies. Smartphones are specifically being designed with high-powered cameras and built-in features like ‘wide selfie’, ‘palm selfie’ and ‘beauty face features’. Both the front and the rear cameras of mobile phones these days come with improved resolution and a higher number of ‘megapixels’. Moreover, there are other gadgets like the selfie stick which facilitate users and have made clicking selfies easier.

However, taking selfies has also proven to be dangerous, even fatal. A number of selfie related accidents and deaths have been reported worldwide, especially in the last two years. People have fallen to their deaths from buildings, bridges, and hills. They have fallen into craters and wells. They have been swept away by powerful waves and drowned. They have been attacked by animals. They have been run over by trains, and they have even shot themselves to death all these daredevil stunts for the sake of a few “likes” and “comments” from their friends on social media.

     Up till now, many of us have looked at the practice of taking selfies as “cool” and “fun”, but such incidents certainly provide food for thought. They impel us to introspection. While clicking photographs or selfies is normal; becoming obsessed with ourselves, or with anything for that matter, is not. However, unfortunately this is what we are doing today. If we visit any recreational spot, we can easily see that people in general and youngsters in particular, are busy taking selfies and posting them online. They also tell their exact location to their “friends” and do not value their privacy.

I am sure that many of you reading this article would have also done this often. However, the next time when you pose for a selfie in a group or individually, ask yourself this: Is it worth it?

Published in Young Nation magazine on August 6, 2016