I took my first "selfie" in 2006 as I was running solo across America. Why did I do it? Well, I was alone and I wanted to document the undertaking. My reason in taking selfies while on any of my solo adventure runs across states and countries was to show my friends and family that I was okay, and to try and share with others the locations I was running through -- particularly since I taught about such locations through my online classroom. As a retired ultra-endurance runner, my days of taking selfies from the road's edge have been done for seven years. However, I'll still grab my phone/camera and take a selfie now and then while out cycling or while on a walk with my beautiful fiancé... simply to capture the moment. Selfies date back 179 years and will always be around, especially with the convenience of today's technology. However, certain selfies -- and the frequency of taking/sharing such selfies -- is something that some people should truly examine in their life.
A recent study at Brunel University revealed some interesting conclusions regarding people who take selfies in order to make social media posts about their physical fitness and workout regiments. The researchers found that people who post a lot of gym selfies, and a lot of statuses about their workout regimen and diet, may actually be suffering from narcissism. They not only want people admiring their physique, but they also crave the attention they gain from posting photos of their toned stomachs, chiseled quads and firm glutes. Narcissism is defined as excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one's physical appearance.
Keep in mind, it's not just selfies! People who spend a lot of time posting about their workout routines are most often seeking out the same sort of attention as those who are constantly posting selfies from the gym. The study went deeper, stating that those who spend a lot of time posting about their diets are looking down the same psychological barrel as those posting their exercise routines. The study found that those who spend as much time posting selfies as they do working out get more interaction on their posts than people who don't post anything from the gym. Researchers now believe that because those people were finding so much more interaction on those posts, they were making similar posts more frequently.
The researchers started to notice that those subjects who were getting a lot of interaction on their gym photos were becoming selfie junkies, posting at least one gym selfie per gym visit. However, when the gym selfie stopped garnering the attention the subjects wanted and needed, that's when the frequent postings about workout routines started. Those posts gained the same amount of interaction as the prior selfies did. The diet posts became the next step when workout regimen selfie addicts stopped getting as much attention for their workout routine posts.
However, it's not just the gym and diet posts that pushed researchers toward the conclusion that people who post a lot of workout selfies are suffering from a form of narcissism. Throughout the study, researchers noticed that the people who posted the most self-involved fitness photos and statuses were also the same people who posted the most self-absorbed statuses and photos in general. The fitness selfie addicts tended to be the people most often posting about how smart, how attractive, and capable they are. Many studies have shown that these are all obvious signs of a narcissistic person. The researchers agree that this pattern is not present in every big-time gym selfie poster's life, but the patterns are there and they are far more than suggestive.
As stated in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, approximately 6% of the U.S. population (nearly 20 million Americans) has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and that it is far more prevalent in men than in women — 7.7% vs 4.8%. Narcissistic personality disorder is closely associated with egocentrism, a personality characteristic in which people see themselves and their interests and opinions as the only ones that really matter. We're all narcissists to some extent, but there is a line to be drawn between healthy narcissism and pathological narcissism. Most of the time, it's not ourselves, but others, who can tell us which side of the line we're truly on.
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