‘A pretty selfie is like asking for compliments,’ Sarah Kuttner, german TV host, once said in an interview. And she’s right: When I post selfies of mine, I do feel happy about the likes and external validation. But that doesn’t mean that I am vain.
Monday morning, 8:30 am at the bus stop – it’s freezing cold. I sit and wait and pull my phone out of my pocket. Initially with the intention of listening to a podcast on the way to work. But then I open Instagram and post a new story. This morning, for whatever reason, I feel like it more than usual. I feel like a selfie with the right filter and a totally ironic caption about it. #wokeuplikethis. But then I backtrack. Captions for selfies, like the selfies themselves, are easy to agonize over. I am neither vain nor an influencer, why should my followers see a picture of me this morning? I feel a little ashamed, and post instead an innocent photo of Berlin in the fall and get on the bus.
A selfie is like fishing for compliments?!
German TV Host, Sarah Kuttner once said that a pretty selfie is always asking for compliments and thus a sign of insecurity. A statement that I could have heard on one of my favorite lifestyle podcasts – it sounds wise and grown-up. Who even admits that they like to take selfies? Nevertheless, we see them everywhere, they are the bread and butter of Instagram and co. Something like that might be a paradox and in any case, I still feel ambivalent. Yes, I have a complicated relationship with selfies. And I dare say that many of us feel that way. And that’s not at all wrong.
Yes, I take selfies! No, I’m not vain!
My best friend often compliments me, she says I’m beautiful and unique. And that makes me happy.
No one would ever think of calling me vain because of that.
And yet such a compliment fulfills some important function: it is an expression of attention and appreciation. These immediate social values are becoming increasingly rare in our digital world. We are stressed in our fast-paced everyday life, because we have a lot to do. Especially in big cities, you sometimes your friends only rarely. So I am happy when I see them virtually and, when I see a selfie, I don’t see vanity (the exception that proves the rule is #wokeuplikethis!). A like or a short comment does not replace a verbal compliment. But a selfie does not replace a personal encounter either.
More self(ie)-love: How to take good selfies
If you want to know how to take good selfies, remember that LIGHT is your friend. Natural light works wonders. It’s also worth getting to know your angles – try holding the camera in different positions. A “portrait mode” can also make your selfies more striking by leveraging you into the foreground for a dramatic shot.
At lunchtime, I take a walk through the park and because the golden light in the fall is so beautiful, I take a selfie. And post it. It’s about self-love, not vanity, and that’s what I found out for myself. Likes can give approval and recognition in our time, which unfortunately is often cold and lonely. We communicate digitally every day, why should we not just feel comfortable with it and pick up some compliments along the way? If I’m happy with myself being a little narcissistic, what’s wrong with that? Nothing at all! So go forth and take sexy selfies! (But please not in the museum in front of the exhibits or at a concert blocking the view of someone’s favorite band – there are limits! Enjoy Snapchat selfies or insta pics responsibly!)