A self-portrait digital photograph usually shared on social media. Does this sound familiar to you? You guessed it! It’s the definition of the word selfie.
With the mind-blowing and rapid increase in camera quality, people can’t help but plunge in the art of selfie making. Many people are taking selfies of themselves and are posting them on social media, but are those selfies as innocent as many believe or are they part of self-objectification as such and ultimately, the dark triad?
The dark triad refers to a cluster of manipulative and malevolent traits in people and consists of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy.
Narcissism is a display of extreme self-centeredness and a sense of entitlement. Narcissists want to be admired by others since they have a grandiose view of themselves. Vanity and self-sufficiency are other traits of narcissism. People with narcissistic traits tend to worry about appearance and they think they are the only ones worthy of respect and praise.
Machiavellianism is a portrait of individuals who cultivate deceptive, manipulative, and cunning behavior with an extreme desire for control. They feel superior and are in a constant search for dominance, caring only about one priority: the fulfillment of their own goals and desires.
Psychopathy is a mental disorder characterized by a lack of love, antisocial and eccentric behavior, and a manifestation of ruthlessness. Paradoxically, these people often appear as smart, outstandingly successful, and attractive.
Self-objectification, in turn, is when people perceive themselves as objects rather than human beings. Self-objectification is often encountered when discussing topics like sex or gender.
A study by Jesse Fox and Margaret C. Rooney showed that while Machiavellianism was not linked to taking selfies and selfie editing, narcissism, psychopathy, and self-objectification shared a major link.
Namely, the drive to satisfy others’ expectations or desires parallels the use of cheater strategies, as self-objectifying individuals may be masking this trait by strategically presenting themselves in a way that would achieve social goals such as attracting a mate, – state Fox and Rooney.
In addition to this, people scoring high on the dark triad, especially in narcissism and psychopathy, had a bigger tendency towards frequent selfie-taking, selfie editing, and picture posting on social media due to their fascination with appearance, vanity, and their feelings of rightful entitlement to praise and admiration. However, this is more accurate for narcissists; psychopaths like posting selfies of themselves but not necessarily editing them.
According to Fox and Rooney, people displaying traits of Machiavellianism somehow seem disinterested in taking selfies since selfies have little to do with getting a firmer grip of control and dominance.
Fox and Rooney go on to say that narcissism and psychopathy related selfies are a commoner occurrence among men than self-objectification which may be higher among women, but to know this, more research is needed, they say.
Now, before we jump to accuse everyone of narcissism or psychopathy, we should keep in mind that the study was a small scale one and that it had its limitations like the small number of people interviewed and no inclusion of women. This is more like an interesting thing to discuss rather than an accusation.
A lot of people indulge in taking selfies and posting them on social media because they want to initiate communication with a romantic interest. We should also consider the fact that a lot of people take pictures of themselves when they are bored or just because they want to make sure their hair is not all over the place or that the color of their lipstick is not fading away. When you have an important appointment or a date, first impressions matter, so there you go. It’s not all as black as it seems.