Snapchat and Selfie Anxiety

Snapchat, mainly due to its being the go-to app for sexting, gets a bad rap but perhaps it serves an important role in the online life of some teens. If all of your friends are posting selfies to Instagram or Facebook and you don’t want to, what are your options?

“It is depressing that we’ve turned self-portraiture, the most intense, worrying and neurotic of arts, into a big collective joke.”

That from an article last week at The Guardian by Jonathan Jones called “RIP the selfie: when Prince Harry calls time on a craze, you know it’s well and truly dead”.

snapchat-logoI don’t agree with a whole lot in that article. That Price Harry called out a young girl for wanting a selfie is not earth shattering news. Nor is the fact that some people don’t like selfies.

I wouldn’t have seen the article at all but for the fact that a journalist I follow on Twitter used Snapchat as an example  in a rebuttal of sorts to the article and in doing so used the term “selfie anxiety”. The idea of selfie anxiety immediately struck a chord with me.

Selfies themselves aren’t good or bad and they probably won’t be as popular down the road as they are today. Their popularity will fade – like tie dyed shirts and hacky sack. Here’s the thing, though – some kids do suffer from some level of selfie anxiety for a number of reasons. Perhaps they aren’t happy with their look, their wardrobe, their lack of trips to exotic locales or fear the lack of likes that they might get. Not being involved in the selfie movement can make them feel left out.

Enter Snapchat, which gives teens an ephemeral alternative to a permanent online post – a more fleeting, less vote-needing alternative. Instead of posting a pic of yourself publicly for everyone to see (and mock, or ignore), you can take a selfie and send it to a controlled group of friends. As a bonus, if the pic is not well received, it’s no big deal. Unless the recipient takes a screen shot, the photo will disappear and become a distant memory before you know it.

Posting too many selfies is not great, but there are worse things. Needing constant affirmation from people liking your pics is not healthy. But sharing the odd picture, even using Snapchat, could be a great alternative.


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