Tag Archives: selfie

Credit: Pixabay.

Selfies destroy confidence and make young women feel less attractive

Credit: Pixabay.

Credit: Pixabay.

Selfies are a paradoxical millennial fad: everyone seems to hate them but almost everyone takes them. There’s a been a lot of talk in the media about the humble selfie, which was even added to the Oxford dictionary. But are they harmless, or potentially damaging to our psyche, as some studies have suggested?

One recent study found that there may be some reason for concern. According to psychologists at York University in Canada, selfies make women feel “more anxious, less confident, and less physically attractive afterward compared to those in the control group.”

*Snap* I feel awful

More than 95% of college students use social media. Women, however, use it much more frequently than men and have been found to spend more time updating, managing, and maintaining their personal profiles.

Study after study has linked social media use to depression, anxiety, and all sorts of feelings of inadequacies about one’s appearance. But such studies spot correlations, not causal relationships. It could be, for instance, that depressed individuals or those suffering from anxiety spend more time on social media and obsesses more over their online persona than other people.

However, the new study published in the journal Body Image is so carefully designed that it suggests social media really does have a significant influence on a person’s behavior — and not the other way around.

The researchers enlisted 113 Canadian women aged 16-29, who they assigned randomly to one of three different conditions. Each participant was given an iPad, which they used while seated in a private space.

In the “Untouched Selfie” condition, the young women had to take a single photo of themselves and then post it on their Facebook or Instagram profile. In the “Retouched Selfie” group, the participants could take as many selfies as they wished and were also allowed to use a photo editing app before posting their favorite selfie. In the control group, the women were tasked with reading news articles about travel locations. That was it — no selfies, no social media.

Mean change in anxiety as a function of condition. Credit: Body Image.

Mean change in anxiety as a function of condition. Credit: Body Image.

Mean change in confidence as a function of condition. Credit: Body Image.

Mean change in confidence as a function of condition. Credit: Body Image.

Mean change in feelings of physical attractiveness as a function of condition. Credit: Body Image.

Mean change in feelings of physical attractiveness as a function of condition. Credit: Body Image.

Women in both selfie-posting groups reported increases in anxiety and feeling less confident than the control group. They also felt less attractive after posting the selfie, regardless of whether or not they could retouch the photo. What’s more, the seemed to be no positive psychological effect following selfie posting on social media.

The main takeaway here is that, for most people, no matter how much we try to put on our best face for social media, it may never feel good enough. The feeling of constant scrutiny can make many people feel inadequate and unconfident about their appearance, as this study shows. So, perhaps those who post too often on Facebook or Instagram might want to dial it back — for the sake of their own’s self-esteem.

“This is the first study to show experimentally that selfie posting on social media is harmful in terms of young women’s mood and self-image. Being able to retouch or modify their photo did not result in women feeling better about themselves after posting a selfie to social media. Future research should look at the longer-term effects of posting photos of oneself on social media, which is an increasingly common aspect of contemporary media use,” the authors of the study concluded.

Curiosity selfie.

Curiosity’s taking selfies as Opportunity braves the storm

While Opportunity is beset by the worst Martian dust storm we’ve ever seen, Curiosity is busy taking selfies.

Curiosity selfie.

Image credits NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill, via Kevin M. Gill / Flickr.

Last week, we’ve told you about the massive dust storm that’s battering Mars and the hapless Opportunity rover. The solar-powered bot is in danger of freezing to (electronic) death, as its solar panels can’t generate any charge in the night-like conditions inside the dust. The venerable rover (already 15 years old) shut down most activity on June 10 to conserve battery charge.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Red Planet, NASA’s Curiosity is enjoying a leisurely life complete with the selfies to show for it.

The fortunate son

“The storm is one of the most intense ever observed on the Red Planet,” NASA said in a statement last week. “As of June 10, it covered more than 15.8 million square miles (41 million square kilometers) – about the area of North America and Russia combined.”

“It has blocked out so much sunlight, it has effectively turned day into night for Opportunity, which is located near the center of the storm, inside Mars’ Perseverance Valley.”

In a twist of martian irony, the storm isn’t nearly as intense half a planet away from Opportunity. While the dust storm’s effects can still be felt there, the sunlight is enough for solar panels to generate energy. A twist of irony because Curiosity, which is currently roving about Mars in this area, doesn’t really need the light — it’s powered by a nuclear reactor.

The car-sized rover first landed on Mars in 2012, and, unlike its older cousin, relies on plutonium-238 instead of solar cells for energy. It’s currently camping in the Gale Crater, a 96-mile-wide valley that researchers once believed housed a giant lake.

Also unlike its older cousin, Curiosity seems to be having a whale of a time. NASA recently released some selfies it beamed back Friday, showcasing the rover’s activity on Mars, while Opportunity braves the storm.

The images were taken with an instrument called the Mars Hand Lens Imager. This instrument — probably the most expensive selfie stick humanity ever produced — is a robotic arm that sports a camera. It can’t capture all of Curiosity in one shot, however, so it sent back several — around 200 images. Over the weekend Kevin M. Gill, a NASA software engineer who likes to process spacecraft photos in his spare time, collaged all the images together into a single panorama.

The final image shows Curiosity and its Martian surroundings, including a rock the rover drilled and a smattering of orange dust.

Curiosity drill.

Curiosity, the rock it drilled (lower left), and the resulting dust (the lower middle bit of the image).
Image modified after NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill, via Kevin M. Gill / Flickr.

Beyond helping us keep tabs on Curiosity’s adventures, the image also showcases its recovery. Back in 2016, its drill instrument was taken offline due to mechanical problems. As the picture shows, however, NASA’s efforts to work around the issue have paid off. The agency first tested the drill in May 2018, when Curiosity bore a two-inch-deep hole in the rock. In a subsequent test, it dropped the drilled dust on the ground, so the agency could get an idea of how much dirt the drill could collect for sampling.

Not everything is rosy for Curiosity, though. The image also shows the damage its aluminum wheels incurred after five years’ time of roving around Mars. It could also probably stand to benefit from a thorough scrubbing.

Curiosity still has some fight left in it, however. Last week, it made headlines around the world by discovering organic molecules, billion-years old, on the Red Planet. In 2013, a rock sample collected by the vehicle revealed that ancient Mars could have supported living microbes. In 2014, the rover measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it. At that time, the robotic laboratory also detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by its drill.

Penguin selfie.

Penguins find unattended camera, snap a fabulous selfie

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but just recently, it also selfied the penguin.

Penguin selfie.

“Does my chin look weird in this?”
Image credits Australian Antarctic Program / Eddie Gault.

Eddie Gault was born and raised in Australia, but his passion took him far away from the heat of the Land Down Under, and into the frigid winds of the poles. And lucky us, because his latest expedition to the Antarctic made this gem of photography possible. The image was captured at the Auster Rookery near Australia’s Mawson Antarctic research station — Australia’s first continental station and the longest continuously operating station south of the Antarctic Circle.

By all accounts, this selfie was the product of a happy accident — Gault left the camera on the ice when visiting the rookery, and it soon attracted the birds, curious to see what’s what.

“It didn’t take long for the naturally curious birds to seize the opportunity for a selfie,” explained the Australian Antarctic Division.

One penguin waddled up to the camera, knocked it over, and then looked down at the objective; likely, as it was checking out its own reflection on the objective. Soon, one of his companions joined him, setting the stage for this amazing image. And I think we can all be glad that they did. You can see the whole encounter here:

The selfied penguins are Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri). They’re the largest penguins of the bunch and are native to Antarctica. They’re also the only beings known to breed during the Antarctic winter, when temperatures can drop down to a frigid -50° Celsius (-58° Fahrenheit).

Thousands of penguins call Auster Rookery their home, and come here to find a mate and rear their chicks. It’s one of around 40 such colonies on the continent of Antarctica. One of the Australian Antarctic program’s central objectives is to study the lives of these penguins, and understand how human activities affect them. Emperor penguins are looking at rough times ahead due to the effects of climate change.

Why selfies make you hate your nose

A new study has found that selfies make noses appear 30% larger — and people aren’t happy about it

Selfies are changing the way we see ourselves — both figuratively and literally.

The selfie effect

With the explosion of social media, people are taking billions of selfies every day and posting them to different channels. Social media has become an important part of our lives, with many people changing the way they look and act in response to this phenomenon. Boris Paskhover, an assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s Department of Otolaryngology who specializes in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, realized that people want to change their appearance to improve their social media persona — even if that means plastic surgery. Many of the people who were asking him for plastic surgery showed selfie examples, prompting him to investigate this further.

“Young adults are constantly taking selfies to post to social media and think those images are representative of how they really look, which can have an impact on their emotional state,” he said. “I want them to realize that when they take a selfie they are in essence looking into a portable funhouse mirror.”

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons has also noticed the trend. According to a 2017 poll, 55% of facial plastic surgeons reported seeing patients who wanted surgeries to make them look better in selfies, up from 13% in 2016.

Strangely, many of the people who wanted to change their noses had rather normal features.

“I’d say, ‘Your nose doesn’t look big — there’s distortion when you keep a camera close to your face,” Paskhover recalled.

An unexpected effect

Portrait A is taken at 12 inches; portrait B is taken at 60 inches. Credit:
Boris Paskhover

In order to better understand this, he teamed up with Ohad Fried, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science. They developed a mathematical model which describes how photos taken at very short range (such as selfies) distort people’s opinions about their noses.

They found that when the lens is very close to the face, at about 30 cm (12 inches),  it makes the nose look about 30 percent larger compared to the rest of the face.

It’s all about perspective. Think about it this way: when you’re close to a building, it seems very large. But the more you step back, the smaller it seems. To the lens, your face is essentially a plane perpendicular to the main camera axis, and the nose is coming out of that plane. Due to this geometry, the closer the lens is too your face, the larger the nose seems relative to your other features.

Paskhover says that given how selfies drive people’s self-image, this should be considered a public health issue. What do you think?

Journal Reference: Brittany Ward, Max Ward, Ohad Fried, Boris Paskhover. Nasal Distortion in Short-Distance Photographs: The Selfie EffectJAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, 2018; DOI: 10.1001/jamafacial.2018.0009


AstroPicture of the Day: The First Space Selfie, 1966

In a tweet last month, astronaut Buzz Aldrin informed us that he was the first to ever take a selfie – in outer space. The mission took place from November 11 and lasted 3 days, 22 hours and 34 minutes. The two-man crew included Aldrin and James Lovell Jr. That was Aldrin’s first space flight. Years after, both he and Lovell would be part of the first mission to the Moon, alongside Neil Armstrong, on 21 July 1969.

So remember kids, selfies are really cool in outer space; on Earth… that’s a different story.