11 Things That Might Happen When You Stop Taking Selfies
Selfies are an art form. One that can often help us explore our self-image, that can be very cathartic, and even a lot of fun. But they are an art form that exists much to the chagrin of many. So what happens when you stop taking selfies? A rush of relief? Bitter regret? Do you forget what you look like?
Even some of the selfie enthusiasts I know practice the art with some disdain, allowing their obsessions to be a sort of self-indulgent exercise in small-time narcissism. Whether we're conscious of it or not, selfies can be an extremely distracting and consuming part of our lives, so weaning ourselves off of them — even if only for a temporary hiatus — might prove beneficial.
My selfie journey began before the term was coined. As an art student proficient in sketching up numerous self-portraits by hand and with a budding love for photography, the glowing advent of MySpace meant profile pic heaven for me. I was learning my way through Photoshop at the time, and justified my obsession as art. But soon I began to worry about how narcissistic it might be, and ended my excessive selfie phase.
Of course, I still take them for assignments, and occasionally to document my life, but I've easily gone months without taking a single selfie — and have been just as happy for it. For anyone looking to ditch the selfie addiction, here are some things that might happen when you stop taking front-facing camera photos. I'm speaking from experience, y'all.
1. You Might Forget Your Best Angles
Practice does make perfect. And when it comes to posing, there's a lot to be said for repetition and muscle memory. When you stop taking selfies all the time, you may have trouble finding that tried and true angle to make your nose look just the way you like it.
Personally, after I stopped taking selfies regularly but found myself obliged to create images of myself for work, there was a learning curve involved. It took me a while to get reacquainted with what I considered to be my "best angles."
2. Your Profile Pics Will Probably Change Less
Taking less selfies these days? Take a look back at the last time you changed your Twitter profile picture. Was it a few months ago? Yeah, that's what I thought.
I haven't changed my Twitter profile since last spring. Sure, that's partly because I'm not a fan of my current hairstyle, but it's also because I simply don't take as many selfies to put up as profile pics. My profile pictures changed almost daily when I was at the height of my selfie obsession. Thankfully, those times are long gone. Because even though keeping a well shot, current profile image can be fun and self-esteem bolstering, changing it more often than you change your shirt gets to be exhausting.
3. Other People's Selfies May Seem Annoying, Obnoxious, Or Contrived
When you stop taking selfies all of the time, watching other people take them can rather quickly become a bit comedic. The act, from the outside, honestly just looks silly. Even if you don't think selfies are narcissistic, you can't deny the humor of someone sticking their phone above their head and changing the angle of their face every few seconds to grab that perfect snap.
4. There Should Be Less Incriminating Evidence
Imagine how many photos people have potentially taken of you while you took a selfie. Now imagine how many of those look good. Shudder.
These days, when I travel to new locales, I take a few moments to observe just how many people are taking selfies. Usually, as I stand casually observing cell phone wielding tourists and locals alike, I'm amazed by how many opportunities I've had to take truly embarrassing images of humans who would be none the wiser. Good thing I'm not that sadistic. But who's to say the guy next to me isn't?
5. You Might Develop Selfie Apathy
Please. Don't. Ask. Me. To. Take. A. Selfie.
This past holiday season, my mom wanted to take about 10 selfies with me in front of our shared favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas. I agreed (despite some not-so-subtle eye rolls), and hit my limit at five variations of the two of us chumming it up, Rosemary Clooney and company situated to our right. Dear mum asked for more, bless her heart, and I nearly ran for the door.
Don't get me wrong, I love my momma, but do we really need more selfies of us sitting around the living room?
6. You'll Likely Appreciate The Present Moment As It Occurs
Taking selfies is not only an art form, but a form of documentation. The trouble with over-documenting your life, however, is that doing so can often take you out of it.
As a photographer (oh yes, the irony here is not lost on me), I regularly have to make the distinction between when I want to enjoy a moment for myself, or when I want to capture it with my lens. And while I sincerely cherish each moment I document in photograph, often the most vivid ones are the ones I've chosen to soak up with the fully vibrant spectrum of all of my senses. Setting down the camera is usually the best way to really appreciate and immerse myself in the now.
7. You May Cherish More Of The Photos Other People Take Of You
Since you've stopped taking photos of yourself, the images other people take of you might suddenly have a bit more value. Your intent when you stopped taking selfies probably wasn't to entirely cease from existing in pictures or having events of your life documented. Therefore, when someone else captures a moment you're a part of, you'll cherish it. It's less commonplace, more memorable, and if it happens to be a great shot of you, even more so.
Instead of taking selfies these days, I make a point of jumping into more photo booths at weddings, volunteering when other photographers need a temporary model, or even asking friends and family for the occasional shot. I've become more interested in the way other people see me, now that I'm focused less on how I can portray myself through selfies.
8. You Should Have More Time To Take Photos Of Other Nouns
People, places, things: They're all there, just waiting for you to photograph them. Focus your phone's camera on the breathtaking landscape in front of you, or your cousin's crazy dog with a goofy snaggletooth. Now that you're not taking as many photographs of yourself, anxiously searching for the best light to highlight your favorite angles and curves (been there), you might have a bit more time to be intrigued by the world around you.
9. And Maybe Even To Enjoy Their Presence
Fifteen minutes less spent taking selfies with your friends means 15 minutes more hearing about their day, what makes them tick, and how they're coping with their struggles. You could also find yourself building closer bonds with new friends and acquaintances in real life. According to Dr. David Houghton, a professor at Birmingham Business School, "People, other than very close friends and relatives don't seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves."
It should also mean more personal time for hiking, drinking wine, reading books, painting, writing, solving Sudoku puzzles, or whatever adds pleasure and value to your day. Getting past my selfie addiction (back in its height) meant more time swimming in the pool instead of smiling next to it.
10. Your Self Esteem May Fluctuate
For some people, posting less selfies might mean unhappy social media followers. It could signal a drop-off in people who were only concerned with their physical appearance, or radio silence in the form of less likes. If you thrive on the constant encouragement of your social media circles (there's no shame in that), this can be quite a blow. However, it can also provide you with the opportunity to discover your self-worth based on your self-love, and to build your self-esteem from an internally driven place. That is a beautiful thing.
11. You'll Usually Find Other Outlets For Your Creativity
So, you've vowed to stop using the forward-facing camera on your phone. No more spending moments, even hours, dedicated to capturing the perfect image of you laying on your back with your hair perfectly splayed around you, or the sun glinting just right behind your head as you stand near the beach (just don't show the garbage cans two feet to your left, or the pile of trash you're narrowly avoiding to catch that sweet sunlight). Now what?
Well, you may begin to turn your camera forward: To observe the world with a sense of wonder and to document that, instead of your posed facial reaction next to it. You may paint, write, take up sculpting, or build something with your newfound time and need to otherwise express your creativity. And who knows where that might lead?
If you give up selfies, if only for a few days, you might just discover what it's like to smile for something other than the camera.