Selfies: Self-indulgence or self-expression?

By Melonie Flomer

May 23, 2014

ROCKINGHAM — Sixteen-year-old Anthony Kubiak and his friend, 15-year-old Tori Hoffman, posed for a selfie this spring.

Selfies are photos taken at arm’s length or in a mirror, with a camera phone or digital camera and quickly posted to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram. Kubiak has only positive things to say about the importance of selfies.

“We both live in Rockingham and go to Richmond Early College High School,” Kubiak said. “We took this picture at the beginning of the 2014 spring semester because it was great to see each other again as we are very close friends. This is one of my favorite pictures because it captures just the fun moments we have together as friends as we were both being silly and having fun. I believe selfies like this are good because it stays as a reminder of days like that. All it can do is leave a positive image for you to think about, and that’s one of the best things.”

Selfies have become a staple in global pop culture, and almost everyone has at least a few of them.

Tori Brigman, 17, of Rockingham shares Heintz’s sentiment.

“I don’t really know why I like them,” Brigman said. “I just do it because it makes me feel better about myself and it’s just something everyone can do when they feel like they look decent.”

Selfies can show that you are out there celebrating life. The Pyramids and the Great Wall of China can form the backdrop. Or you can post 45 different views of your new hairstyle.

No demographic group can lay exclusive claim to selfies. A Google search reveals selfies from popular musicians Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus to Pope Francis, shown grinning ear to ear with Palm Sunday worshippers at the Vatican, to Pres. Barack Obama taking a selfie with Bill Nye the Science Guy. And of course there’s the tweet by Ellen DeGeneres pictured with several celebrities earlier this spring – the Oscar selfie that was re-tweeted three million times.

There’s even an online calculator that will rate the popularity of your selfie. Check out

“I know a lot of people are really taking it seriously,” said Dr. Paul Heintz, an industrial organizational psychologist and psychology/human sexuality professor at Edison College in southwestern Ohio. “This is a different media, a technique in order for teenagers especially, to create their self-image.”

Heintz also says that what would be “normal interaction” between a couple of close friends or family members, has become

Soon-to-be high school grad Rachel Zelnick says she’s always mindful of the selfies she and her friends post to social media.

“I don’t think a lot of people are aware of what other people can find” on the Internet,” Zelnick said. “A lot of youth think it’s not going to affect them. I’m conscience of what I post.”

Zelnick also said part of the “fun” of posting selfies is the fact that it’s not planned. “A group of friends get together to hang out and someone says ‘hey, let’s take a selfie.’”

Rick Cartwright, president of, in Dayton, Ohio, cautions young people to “be smart” with their postings.

“Social media is great, and many individuals use it to keep up with family and friends. When posting on online, it’s important to remember that what you post may be viewed by potential employers, educators, or others. Selfies are a lot of fun too, and there is nothing wrong with a fun picture. Just remember the rule still applies - if you post a pic of yourself a compromised situation, it too may be viewed by a potential employer. In general, anything you post online may live a long time, and even after you deleted it, the potential is there for it to be found. Be smart with your posting.”

Reporter Melonie Flomer and Civitas Media contributed to this article. Reach Melonie Flomer at 910-997-3111, ext. 15.