PRETTY much everyone – from politicians and celebrities to, well, even my parents – has taken a selfie before. Even the Oxford dictionary added the word to their databse last year, an indicator of how prevalent selfies have become.

In fact, right now on Instagram, there are 96,437,563 photos (and counting!) tagged with the #selfie hashtag.

But when a friend of mine asked me why people take selfies, I found myself completely dumbfounded. It’s not that he’s completely against the culture or anything; but he did wonder out loud whether people were becoming too self-absorbed with getting a photo of their “best side”.


As a repeat selfie offender myself, that thought had never hit me before – until I saw a group of teenage girls who suddenly stopped mid-walk in a crowded mall to take a selfie of themselves, causing a huge human traffic jam.

I’m really not knocking selfie culture, because I get why people do it. It’s fun to pull silly faces at the camera with a bunch of your friends. Also, on really bad days, a good photo of yourself can be an effective confidence (and mood) booster.

But now it seems this obsession with taking the perfect selfie could actually be bad for you! The story of Danny Bowman, a British teenager with a selfie addiction, started making its rounds on social media recently, and funnily enough, I completely understood his need to take a ridiculous amount of front-camera photos just to figure out the perfect angle and lighting for his face!

What sets the 19-year-old’s selfie habits apart from the rest is that he spent 10 hours a day doing that. He also dropped out of school, stayed at home for six months and lost almost 13kg in order to look good on camera.

He got aggressive when his parents tried to stop him, and in a drastic attempt to escape his selfie addiction, attempted suicide by drug overdose, but was thankfully saved by his mother.

Psychiatrist Dr David Veal claims Bowman’s addiction extends far beyond vanity and is now recognised as a serious mental health issue. Bowman is diagnosed with technology addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder – an excessive anxiety about personal appearance.

Of course, this is an extreme case. It’s not that the act of taking selfies is bad. Sure, it’s an indicator of how much vanity and narcissism is acceptable on social media, and it also shows how much we tend to over-share our lives (case in point: the Tumblr blog dedicated to selfies taken at funerals); but despite what the haters say, it really doesn’t harm anyone.

So go on, take a selfie if you want to. But if you don’t, then more power to you. Just remember that moderation is key. Besides, what’s the point of taking hundreds of selfies if they all end up looking the same?

The writer is a member of The Star’s BRATs young journalist programme. For more info on the BRATs, log on to


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