TBT, GPOY, WIWT, OOTD, selfie. Chances are, if you’re a millennial, you know exactly what each of those abbreviations mean, but on the off-chance you don’t, here’s the rundown:
-TBT: Throwback Thursday. A chance for you to show off how darn cute you were as a kid, or how popular you were in high school.
-GPOY: Gratuitous Picture of Yourself. If you’re feeling cute and have a camera nearby, this is what you’re posting just because you want to get those likes.
-WIWT and OOTD: What I Wore Today and Outfit of the Day. Essentially the same thing, you’re showing off your fierce fashion sense and finding another excuse to put a picture of yourself on social media.
-Selfie: The all-encompassing phrase for all of the above, and then some.
It’s hard to deny that our generation is fixated on self-promotion, or at the very least getting a regular ego boost via our friends on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, Tinder, etc.
One so-called “expert”, Jean M. Twenge — an author and professor of psychology at San Diego State University — is claiming that millennials (you and me) are the most narcissistic generation of young people yet. And as much as I hate the term “millennial”, as much as I love debunking an expert and invalidating a youth-bashing argument, Twenge’s assertion feels pretty on the money.
“There’s a common perception that self-esteem is key to success, but it turns out it isn’t,” she says. “Young people are just completely convinced that in order to succeed they have to believe in themselves or go all the way to being narcissistic.” And so we’re all on the same page here, let’s take a look at the definition of narcissism:
Right, now back to those selfies. A quick look at my Instagram feed shows thinly veiled attempts to garner adoration from followers — one girl posts a closeup of her face to show off her new mascara. Comments include “you’re so pretty!”, “wish I had eyes your color” and “#jealous”. The original posters responds to the 27 likes and 8 comments with a humble, “thanks guys :)”. Scrolling down, someone else entirely has posted a shot of their legs, with the caption “Got my skinny jeans on, bitches”. You can imagine the reaction to this one; a total of 12 people have remarked on how thin thin this poster looks, one person says “gosh, eat a burger ;)”. No grateful response from the owner of the legs yet.
It’s ridiculous to me that we go along with this behavior. Why are we so addicted to posting photos simply to receive compliments? Why do we pay out those compliments like Pavlov’s idiot dogs — see selfie, leave praise, roll over for tummy scratches.
If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. I’m seeing trends in my peers’ behavior that I just don’t understand — this neediness for acceptance and adoration isn’t a good look, you guys! Literally! Do you have any idea how dumb you look sitting in front of your laptop posing for a web cam, or standing in front of a mirror snapping a pic, or stretching your arm way out so your phone can grab a “candid” shot of you?
I get that some of you are going to be offended, but like I said, I just don’t understand this “me, me, me” obsession. If you’re a repeat selfie offender, a #TBT or #WIWT or #OOTD participant, if you’re someone who has ever stood in the bathroom for a DIY photo shoot or if you’ve left heavy-handed compliments on someone’s photo — tell me why, tell me what you got out of it. Because maybe Jean Twenge is wrong and I’m missing the bigger point. It’s totally possible. But I don’t think so.