In The Face oF Dan­ger

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - PSYCHE -

The selfie trends that have taken a turn for the treach­er­ous #SelfieO­lympics The 2014 con­test to take the wack­i­est self­ies imag­in­able was right­fully banned from social me­dia af­ter claim­ing the life of Os­car Reyes, 18, who mounted a door in his bid for a photo, but fell and was fa­tally in­jured. Real be­hind the wheel Self­ies be­hind the wheel. What could go wrong? Don’t an­swer that… Free-climb­ing self­ies Hey, you know what’s a great idea? Climb­ing to the top of the high­est build­ing/moun­tain/ un­safe place you can think of to take a dare­devil selfie. If you sim­ply must scale some­thing tall to get a thrill, we sug­gest a bas­ket­ball player. Grin and bear it This US trend had In­sta fans lit­er­ally risk­ing life and limb to be papped with a bear. It got so bad, the US For­est Ser­vice tried to ban the move­ment and is­sued warn­ings. Any­thing for the ’Gram, though, right? Jaws for thought As above. Only with sharks. Wa­ter get­ting into your phone is the least of your wor­ries – se­ri­ously. Now I see it’s just her way of val­i­dat­ing her­self.’

‘Get­ting a good com­ment sets me up for the day,’ says Michaels. ‘My ex didn’t un­der­stand why I wouldn’t lis­ten to him when­ever he said I’m beau­ti­ful. I was like, “Oh, great, I’m glad you think I’m pretty but I have to prove my­self to other peo­ple.” I be­lieved strangers over him.’

Al­though val­i­da­tion is not in­her­ently bad, says Jesse Fox, a pro­fes­sor at Ohio State Univer­sity’s School of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, the cy­cle of con­stantly re­quir­ing it is. ‘What’s dan­ger­ous about get­ting ac­cus­tomed to con­stant social feed­back is that when it gets cut off, you start to feel bad about your­self. You need that hit.’

Michaels’s boyfriend broke up with her af­ter she re­fused to stop tak­ing self­ies. ‘It made me take a break from post­ing pic­tures on social me­dia, but I was still tak­ing them. It just made me feel worse – with­out the com­ments from oth­ers I was look­ing at the pic­tures so crit­i­cally,’ she says. ‘That’s what peo­ple don’t get – they think I am full of my­self, when re­ally I am tak­ing thou­sands of self­ies just so I can find that one where I ac­tu­ally look good. It’s the op­po­site.’

Be­fore I say good­bye to Michaels, I ask about her favourite pho­tos of her­self. They turn out not to be self­ies at all but pho­tos oth­ers have taken. ‘I love those can­did ones,’ she says wist­fully. ‘They’re not planned and I’m not pos­ing and my hair’s not in the right place. Even my eyes are a dif­fer­ent shape.’ There’s a si­lence. ‘There are some pic­tures where I look gen­uinely happy.’ ■

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