The British communications regulator recently published a report declaring the UK a "smartphone society" who now prefers smartphones to laptops for going online (yes, tell us what else is new). But the report actually contained some more staggering (though still unsurprising) findings regarding selfie culture. It found that one in ten Brits aged 16-24 take a selfie daily, which is some righteous self-love. About a quarter of the same age group reports taking a selfie at least once a week. By contrast, 51 percent of Brits aged 25-34 say they never take selfies.
Sixty-two percent of the younger demographic said they used social media to share their photos, while only 34 percent of the older demographic did. Surprisingly, almost half of people in both age groups said they don't delete unwanted photos, which sounds like an embarrassingly doofy-faced mass selfie hack waiting to happen.
Other global reports have also shown that women over 40 take fewer selfies. And while people love to chalk up selfie culture to "millennial narcissism" or the tech gap of growing up with a smartphone vs not, young people often bite back that selfies are empowering. But I'd be willing to wager that as millennials grow into middle age, their selfie habits drop off in the same way we see these studies showing Gen X-ers doing.
Because the truth is, as a pre-smartphone/pre-social media millennial teen, I still went out to the drug store, bought a disposable camera, snapped a bunch of moody photos of myself, went back to the drug store to get the roll developed, put that roll on a CD, and uploaded the JPGs to my LiveJournal. It took a hell of a lot longer and resulted in much more uncertainty re: potential cuteness, but these were still "selfies" that I took out of interest in myself at a time when my confidence was feeble. As I grew older and more confident, validation-by-selfie wasn't something I needed anymore.
As Amy McCarthy has put it here on Bustle before: "As women age, they begin to give fewer and fewer fucks about what people around them think about their lives, and most importantly, their bodies." I think "selfie culture" has less to do with "young people" and the technology we do or don't grow up with, and more to do with the objective ages of people studied. Young people are simply more self-absorbed because they're figuring out their sense of self. As we mature and become more firmly rooted in our identities, we're able to turn out and focus on others again — perhaps inviting them into our selfies, too.
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