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Selfies: Why They Can Be a Good Thing

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If you have a smart phone or a Facebook account or listen to the news at all, you probably know about selfies. There are a lot of opinions out there about selfies but I, for one, am going to take the controversial stance that selfies do not in fact signal the end of civilization as we know it. Really, they can be a good thing.

Millennials are often criticized as being self-absorbed – Time Magazine went so far as to call them “The Me Me Me Generation” – and those who cringe at the word “selfie” are quick to point out that the over-indulgent parents of Generation Y focused too much on building up their children’s self-esteem, creating these narcissistic monsters who can’t stop taking pictures of themselves! But that might be a little too harsh.

Yes, the parents of this generation were told that good self-esteem is important for their children but that certainly isn’t the biggest generational difference. Millennials are growing up in a time where technology is advancing faster than it ever has before and they have access to all of it. They can take a picture and share it with their hundreds of Facebook friends faster than it took me to type out this sentence.

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The reason that Generation Y takes selfies and Generation X doesn’t (as much), is that the latter didn’t have the resources to do so growing up. Throughout history, those who could afford it would spend a lot of time and money to have artists paint their portraits. Imagine if they had smart phones. Millennials take so many selfies because getting an image of yourself has never been so easy.

Taking selfies isn’t hurting anyone. In fact, looking at images of yourself and your friends and other real life, un-photoshopped people may be good for one’s body image. What’s wrong with taking a nice picture of yourself to remind yourself that you don’t have to be Kate Moss to look and feel good? Or sharing a silly selfie with your friends to get a laugh? Or even to make a bunch of silly faces when you’re bored and find them in your photo stream a week later?

However, there are wrong ways to take selfies. Remind your kids not to share their selfies with people they don’t know, not to post pictures of themselves doing something illegal (though that is a whole other issue to be addressed), and not to be naked in the picture! Talk to your kids about selfie common sense but don’t worry about what selfies mean to society.

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