A photo of a young, attractive woman taking a selfie picture.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Hot on the trails of a study that found that posting selfies is good for your mental health comes one saying that viewing other peoples’ selfies can be bad for your self-esteem. Basically, science can’t make up it’s mind about social media.

The new study, by researchers at Penn State, found that viewing other peoples’ selfies led to lower self-esteem, especially when people felt that their lives weren’t as good as the peoples’ in the photos. Mind you, that’s not to say that the people posting selfies lead happy, fulfilling lives, but people do tend to take selfies when they’re enjoying themselves. The researchers hope that this new information might help people make decisions about what to post and when, so as not to harm people who might see them.

Let’s pause there, though. While not posting hate speech and providing trigger warnings for things you post is good, not sharing images of yourself enjoying life is, well, crossing a line perhaps. The problem here doesn’t seem to be that the people posting the selfies are bullying others, but that the people viewing the selfies have some internal issues that they need to confront. From the sound of it, the study basically found that people get jealous or envious of their friends who feel confident enough to post selfies. But how is that the poster’s fault?

What we’re seeing here is indicative of a larger problem with American culture: everybody thinks that their neighbor has it better. Maybe they do, but people need to learn to be happy and content with what they have. And for those who want to better their lives, perhaps they can start viewing others’ selfies with inspiration instead of jealousy. But more than anything, we as a society need to understand that a photo is only a small fraction of the story. There are so many people who live outwardly successful lives, but on the inside, they’re incredibly depressed.

About 

Martin Ackerman is a freelance writer and current editor originally from Staten Island, NY. His university schooling focused on English education and Japanese. He has a (not so secret) passion for art history and political science. When he isn't writing or editing you can find him at sci-tech conventions, building the latest LEGO city or pampering his cat, Tea. You can follow him on Twitter @MarMackerman.