You can argue that modern narcissism (or magnitude of self-love, depending on how you look at it) is peaking. Google statistics estimate about 93 million selfies were taken every single day in 2014—and that’s only factoring in Android-toting men and women, not the iPhone users.
Needless to say, selfies are inescapable on Facebook and Instagram. Pictures of your bare-chested buddies pouting at their smartphones. *Obligatory* shots of women showing off new haircuts or taking advantage of good lighting. Oh, and nearly every one of these topped off with unrelated inspiration quotes (we can only imagine Gandi aspired for his words of wisdom to someday be the justification for a selfie).
Even if you love the people posting these unfortunate snaps, there’s a part of you probably judging them for being a little self-absorbed and seeking some validation. But is that what you think about yourself when you take a selfie? No—yours are clever, funny, above the self-promotion, right?
Well this mindset is all part of the “selfie paradox,” according to research published in Frontiers. According to the new study, people often peg others as having “self-presentational motives and less authenticity” in their selfies, whereas they see their own as “self-ironic and more authentic.”
Researchers surveyed 238 people living in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Of those questioned, 82% said they’d rather see other types of photos on social media—an awkward holiday family photo, your new French bulldog wearing a sweater, your fish tacos—literally anything.
Yet selfies are still so damn popular. About 77% of these survey participants admitted to regularly taking the pics (though 62-67% agreed there are potential negative consequences to taking a selfie, like a hit to their self-esteem if they get a certain comment or not enough likes).
Why? Researchers have a theory:
“The selfie as a self-advertisement, playing the audience with one’s positive characteristics or the selfie as an act of self-disclosure, sharing a private moment with the rest of the world and hopefully earning sympathy, appear to be key motivators,” lead study author Sarah Diefenbach said in a press release. “This may explain how everybody can take selfies without feeling narcissistic. If most people think like this, then it is no wonder that the world is full of selfies,” she explains.
We will add one caveat, though. Research has proved sharing your weight loss or muscle gain progress makes you more likely to accomplish your goals. It keeps you accountable. So, if your selfies are mostly transformation pics, then don’t worry what anyone else thinks and keep documenting your shred.