Stop pathologizing the selfie trend

While many may roll their eyes at the news articles over Kim Kardashian tweeting a selfie with Hilary Clinton on Thursday, psychologist Pamela Rutledge, PhD, says selfies are more than just a narcissistic trend with a newly accessible technology.

“Selfies are an extraordinary documentation of the process of life,” Rutledge told attendees Friday at a symposium on the use of media and technology for good.

Before launching into her talk, Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center and a psychology professor at Fielding Graduate University, asked everyone to pull out their phones and take a selfie with those sitting around them.Selfie blog photo

“You have just created a moment that you will be able to look back on and re-experience, and you’ll remember the emotional feeling you had, whether it was funny, or maybe a little bit of discomfort because you don’t do this kind of thing,” Rutledge said.

While admitting that people — particularly teens and young adults — take a lot of “stupid” selfies, Rutledge explained that the photos are often part of a young person’s exploration of self, and can even serve as a way to cultivate mindfulness.

She recommended that psychologists stop pathologizing the selfie trend and instead embrace its use and encourage people to take photos of themselves in moments of gratitude, courage, struggle, achievement and even silliness.

“There are so many moments worth capturing and revisiting,” she said. “If you capture them regularly as a visual journal, you’ll have an extraordinary little journey through what it was like to be you.”

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