There is an incline of death related selfies in the past three years. A study led by PHD student Hemank Lemba from Carneige Mellon University in Pittsburgh, claims that there had been 127 selfie related deaths since 2014. Lemba goes on to divide the selfie related deaths in its respective countries before explaining why there had been an increase in death related selfies. Lemba argues that the reason why there is a phenomenon in death related selfies is due to trying to accumulate more likes and status on social media. Lemba claims that, “the better your selfie, the more likes and follows you can pick up on social media, such as Instagram (stated in a BBC news article).”
There is truth to what Lemba claims, and if we look at we look at creativity that lies within selfies, one with the most absurd creativity tend have greater number of responses and likes.
Videos of crazy selfies taken.
However, the real death related seflies cause is the death of your integrity and your private self. Once you are driven by the pursuit of taking selfies, you are led to this road of self-obsession and commodity. Selfies make you more prone to popular culture, submitting into their demands and beliefs, and this blog will show you how and why.
When we take selfies, we attempt to take a picture of the best us. We dig through our folder of selfies, often correcting an unsatisfying selfie with Instagram filters before we place ourselves into the world of social media. After that, the value of our selfie is determined by the amount of likes we obtain, the comments we receive (bad or good) and repost the selfie often gets. We can call these interactions as the transactional process of selfies. Like a stock market, the value of our image goes up by the popularity, demand and most importantly, by the number of followers we get back from it. Our selfies turn the person/subject into a commodity and/or an asset.
It is this asset that causes the popular culture to take advantage of the selfie function. They know that your selfie can generate income for itself, and they would somehow manipulate your selfie by offering product placements, a product from my company in return for a selfie with my product on your social media account.
Because of this, your selfie has now become an advertising board in which various mega companies from pop culture take advantage. From taking a picture with a Porsche to having a picture with your favourite Nike sweater, you have become an advertising tool in which various companies are using.
As D C. Murray argues in, ‘Note to self: the visual culture of selfies in the age of social media’,
“the selfie appears to represent a critique of youth who have become subsumed within a troubling consumerist fixation with the superficiality of self-imaging and the cult of personality.”
I agree with this point further reiterate the fact that because of this troubling “consumerist fixation”, one is led to a destruction and the death of the self. If we take a look at our favourite celebrities, both Justin Bieber and Kylie Jenner, we can see how both celebrities are fixed on consumerism, posting selfies to help accumulate more likes and followers on social media. If we look at Kylie Jenner in particular, if you didn’t know, she has recently signed an endorsement deal with sporting brand Puma.
A picture of Kylie Jenner posted on her main Instagram account after signing a deal with Puma.
Reflecting on Jenner’s social media following, it is only clear that Puma are using her image as an advertisement tool in order for the brand to reach into Jenner’s followers. Her superficiality has been heightened and manipulated by continuous product placements. The more products she gets from big street wear fashion brands, the more followers and likes she gets, which also leads to this addiction to superficiality as well as advertisement success to mainstream brands.
Where does death of one’s integrity you asked? I will only leave you with one evidence: Justin Bieber. If you didn’t know, Bieber has recently deactivated his Instagram account, claiming during his Purpose Tour in London 2016 that “Instagram is the works of a devil!”
A link to Justin Bieber claiming Instagram to be a work of the devil.
This statement is quite troubling as it reveals the pressure social media has on youth. Bieber clearly felt the pressure, and as he is feeling the pressure of social media, trying to follow its imaginary standards but fails. This imaginary standard, caused by the fixation on selfies and superficiality, has led to Bieber’s rant of Instagram. Unlike Jenner, Bieber clearly feels that all those selfies are not worth it. Causing the death of one’s superficiality and social account. Trying to remove one’s existence from the social world.
- Murray. D.C, ‘Note to self: the visual culture of selfies in the age of social media’, 2015
- The BBC, ‘The rise in selfie deaths and how to stop them’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/38012990/the-rise-in-selfie-deaths-and-how-to-stop-them – accessed on the 18th December 2016