Selfie: How We Became so Self Obsessed and What It's Doing to do Us by Will Storr

Summary


This is the most important book I've read in 2018. The more research I do on how social media impacts our emotional health, the more I'm convinced that we should use it less, ALOT less. This is a sometimes disturbing, but incredibly honest look at the impact that social media is having on our behavior and emotional well being. I'm not sure if it was the effect the author intended, but I use social media far less than I did before I read this book.

Quotes/Highlights

If you're prone to social perfectionism, your self esteem will be dangerously dependent on keeping the roles and responsibilities you believe you have.


One of the most critical functions of the human self is to make us feel in control of our lives. When people are having perfectionistic thoughts, they're wanting to feel that they're in control of their mission of being the great person they imagine they ought to be. The problem come when the missions progress stop or ,worse, goes into reverse. When their plans go badly awry, they'll strive to get that control back. If they fail and keep on failing, they'll enter despair. The self will begin to flounder.


Even if you you don't consider yourself a perfectionist, it's likely you have an idea of the person you ought to be and experience at least a pang when you don't measure up to it.


We're living in an age of perfectionism, and perfection is the idea that kills. Whether, it's social media or pressure to be the impossibly 'perfect' twenty-first iterations of ourselves, or pressure to have the perfect body or pressure to be successful in our careers, or any of the other myriad ways in which we place overly high expectations on ourselves and other people, we're creating a psychological environment that's toxic.


We often fail to realize that the things we believe are, to a significant extent, a combination of beliefs, stories, philosophies, superstitions, lies, mistakes, and struggles of flawed men and women— our culture in a word.


Caring about what others think of us is thought to be one of humanity's strongest preoccupations.. We're all to some degree, anxious, and hyperactive PR agents for ourselves.


The further west you go, the more individualistic, the more delusional about choice, the more emphasis on self esteem, the more emphasis on self-just-about-everything until it all falls into the pacific.


Success cues impress because of how our brains have evolved. You might argue that an investment banker's Ferrari doesn't signal any kind of excellence you're interested in- or indeed, any kind of excellence at all. That sadly, is beside the point. The behavior is automatic and unconscious. It just happens. (And if you are somehow immune to the cues that come with wealth, there'll surely be another set of success cues that have an equally powerful and largely hidden effect on you.


This preoccupation with the state of our inner selves-its more cleanliness, its strength, its peace, its worthiness— is still an enormous part of our culture and daily experience, regardless of our faith, not least in its manifestation in the multibillion-dollar self help and wellness industries.,


We all judge ourselves by looking into the eyes of other people and imagining what they're thinking.


When people feel suicidal it often comes with feelings of self-loathing, and because of this cultural taboo, we don't want to admit them. We certainly don't want to talk about it anyone, especially if we're prone to perfectionistic thinking and a heightened sensitivity to signals of failure.


By 2014, 93 billion selfies were being take every day on Android phones alone. Every third photograph taken by an eighteen-to-twenty-four year old was of themselves.


Part of neoliberalism's genius is that it has, as its electricity, our natural desire for status- it rewards the impulse of getting ahead of the rest of the tribe that's inherent in the human animal.


We live our lives in story mode. Our minds make sense of the world using simplistic observations of cause and effect. They confabulate, weaving a useful, makes-sense narrative out of what they're feeling and seeing that casts their owners in a heroic light.


When you're in an echo chamber with a bunch of people who are similar to you, you start saying things that would not be socially acceptable elsewhere.


Social media is about more than just appearance. It's also a deeply neoliberal product that has gamified the self, turning our identity into a pawn that plays competitively on digital platforms for likes, feedback, and friends—the approval of the tribe.


What we see is studies that show social media is associated with diminished well being and lower life satisfaction, because people are always looking at people with better lives. And awareness of the artifice that's inherent in social media is apparent, no protection. In that minute, we accept all the fake stuff as real. We don't question it. And all sorts of bad things can came out of us fixing particularly on our appearance, really nasty effects; eating disorders, diminished cognitive performance, depression and suicidal thoughts.


You're limited. Imperfect. And there's nothing you can do about it.

If we want to inch towards happiness, then we should stop trying to change ourselves and start trying to change our environment— the things we're doing with our lives, the people we're sharing it with, the goals we have. We should find projects to pursue which are not only meaningful to us, but over which we have efficacy.

© 2017 Unmistakable Creative Podcast
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