Selfie addiction courts danger at every step--Anandi Mishra | TNN | Feb 15, 2016, 10.23 AM IST
Pune: Fatalities triggered by selfies are rising, yet young people continue to court danger on the road, in water, in front of trains and in other dangerous places. For many, the trend to click and post photographs online overrides the repercussions.
Two young HSC students, who went to a reservoir in Nashik on Saturday, drowned in the waters, while taking a selfie. Two weeks ago a 16-year-old student died while trying to take a selfie with a speeding train in the background just outside Chennai.
The number of people losing their lives or getting into some dangerous situation because of selfie-fever is still lower than the ones who have already lost their sanity over the trend, with psychiatrists cautioning against the trend.
A first-year commerce student in Fergusson College thinks her Instagram feed isn't too full of '#FoodPorn' hence she needs to eat out more and take mouth-watering selfies with the food in front of her to make her online followers 'heart' those photos and post comments like 'drool-worthy' and 'I so wanna have that!!'
"I don't think it's vanity. I have fun taking these pictures and it satiates my creative desires. Moreover, I only let people I know follow me not just any random person and my account is private," she said.
Popular hangouts on Fergusson College Road, Koregaon Park and every nook and corner where young people gather are full of selfie clicking sprees. People from all age groups seem to be enslaved to the lure of these self-portraits. Many become so addicted that they click, delete, re-click, shuffle poses almost everywhere.
Be it a social gathering or at home, even warming up to the room heater, selfies have become a virtual diary to every minute of an individual's daily life. "I click a photo of myself whenever I buy a new dress or when I am stepping out with friends. It is something I do out of sheer love for myself and I don't think this is a problem," a medical student in the city said.
Form of OCD
While some call it a mere documentation of their day-to-day lives, but psychiatrists are sceptical.
Sagar Mundada, president of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors, said last June the American Psychiatric Association had officially classified taking selfies as a mental disorder called 'selfitis'.
"It is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to take one's own pictures and post them on social media. It is a mechanism used by people to make up for low self-esteem," he said.
The disorder is of three types. Borderline is when one takes at least three pictures of oneself but does not post it on social media, acute- when one takes at least three pictures of oneself and post it on social media and chronic- when one takes at least six pictures of oneself and posting it on social media, every day.
The problem is most common among teenage girls, Mundada said. He is treating two patients who suffered from anxiety when they do not take at least five selfies every day. "I started them on medicines and behavioural therapy and after two months, the level has presently reduced to two selfies a day," he said.
Bulked up phone memories and fast-filling computer hard drives are another problem stemming out of this trend. "I have around 80 GB of photos from just one year. I socialize a lot and take loads of photos of which 70% are selfies. However, my computer hard disk is filling up fast and it is a problem I don't have a solution to," another first year commerce student from the city said.
The selfie trend has also led to the constant shuffling of WhatsApp display pictures among people. Since people click so many photographs on their phones, they make it a point to showcase these photos as their WhatsApp display pictures or uploads on social media.
Psychiatrist Rohan Jahagirdar said, "Social media or the virtual world has become our second existence leading to internet addiction. People have developed antics only to get more likes and comments. In this race to capture a moment with oneself, attention seeking people take selfies at all odd places, from a murder spot to a historical monument. It is the new way of getting attention."
This, he attributes to growing insensitivity in people and the lack of attention and self-esteem in real life. "These people don't have social recognition in their lives," he said. Jahagirdar is also treating a couple of such patients. One has developed the knack of clicking selfies with street animals while another likes taking nude selfies of his reflection in the mirror, he said.
People should realise they are in trouble when they spend more time in the virtual world than the real world. "The number of likes they get is a disease that needs to be addressed. Social media is made for you, you are not made for it," he added.
Stop before it consumes you
People should realise that they are in trouble when they are spending more time in the virtual world than in the real world
These patients fall mainly in the 17-40 age bracket, most of them being below 25 years of age
The reason for most of them being below 25 is that they get more exposure to social media from an early time in their lives because of which they end up getting more influenced by social trendsDeath by selfie
Out of the global 27 who died taking selfies in 2015 more than half were from India. Three were college students attempting the perfect selfie in front of a speeding train in Kosikala in January 2015. In March, seven youngsters were celebrating a friend's birthday and drowned after the boat capsized when they were trying to get the perfect pose. A Japanese tourist in Agra died after succumbing to injuries that he had sustained after falling from the Taj Mahal's stairs. An engineering student in Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, died after the rock he was standing on while taking a selfie came loose and he fell into a 60-foot ravine. Two drowned in the Narmada canal in Sundernagar near Rajkot while trying to take selfies.