Narcissism: an aspect of selfie

On social media, visual-led communication has been increasing in amount. Nowadays, Facebook posts without images are becoming difficult to find. Other major digital platforms like Pinterest, Instagram or Tumblr all have their content organized around images. Image-centered mobile apps like WhatsApp or Snapchat have also been increasing in number and popularity. In line with this steeply rising significance of visuality in communication, in recent years, selfie has been a phenomenon that has both remarkably attracted public attention and sparked vigorous debates among academics. In this context, a number of researchers who try to unpack this social media phenomenon have linked it with narcissism.

Basically, a selfie is a snapshot of oneself taken by holding a camera or smartphone at arm’s length, or sometimes with the help of a selfie stick. One advantage of taking photo this way is that selfie takers are in full control of the whole process and results. People like the fact that they can decide how to frame themselves on screen and how many times to retake a selfie for the best outcomes (1). The need for flawless selfies on social media has given rise to popular use of mobile apps for instant photo editing, such as PhotoWonder or InstaMag.

Today, selfie is the most popular photo genre (5) to the extent that some even call it a “social epidemic”. According to Rawhide, an American non-profit organization offering assistance for at-risk youth, 93 million selfies were taken daily in 2015 (2). Taking selfie seems to be more prominent among young generations. 95% of adolescents had ever taken a selfie, and the amount of time every one of them spent for selfie went up to almost 7 full work days. From celebrities to “more serious” well-known people, and even the world’s political big fishes, have partaken in this “digital ritual”. On Instagram, Kim Kardashian is notorious for her selfies of flashing the flesh and in pretty much the same manner, Justin Bieber has updated countless selfies of him going topless. In 2013, a picture of Barack Obama, David Cameron and Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking a group selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service went viral in cyberspace (8). Also in 2013, the Pope was captured to be taking selfie with a teenage group (6). Selfie has spread out to outer space: in 2012, a space selfie by Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide was claimed to be the greatest selfie of all time.


It appears that everyone could be influenced by the trend. As observed, infrequent selfies are generally acceptable or can be seen as a fun activity. However, heavy exploitation of selfies has been criticized and can be associated with “social media-driven narcissism” (9). Narcissism is a personality trait characterized by grandiosity (2): a typical narcissist tends to adopt an inflated self-view, exaggerate their accomplishments, and lack empathy for others. In online environment, narcissism is reported to be associated with a desire for big audience’s attention (1). At the same time, research found out that narcissists are more likely to perform positive self-presentation on social media, where they reveal a large number of photos of themselves (11).Likewise, Rawhide suggested a number of narcissistic behaviors on social network sites, including frequent change of profile picture and oversharing of self-promotional images (2).

In their effort to examine the issues of online privacy breach faced by young people, Berriman and Thomson mapped different youth cultural positions on social media against two axes: participation and visibility (Figure 1). According to this model, active narcissistic users can be placed in the group of high visibility and high participation, the e-celeb. In fact, many famous bloggers, vloggers, Facebookers posting a high quantity of selfies can be identified with narcissistic traits. Because social media facilitate activities of self-broadcasting, they do foster narcissism. On the one hand, they function as a vehicle for already egocentric people to brag about themselves (7). On the other hand, social media use can be addictive, where self-absorption is reinforced to create narcissistic individuals, especially with flattering function like the “like” button. With regard to this, Emily Johnston, the blogger of Fashion Foie Gras (FFG) made a comment: “Before I started FFG I genuinely didn’t care how I looked in pictures. When you have hundreds of thousands of people seeing an image of you it takes on a whole new level of importance. You become self-absorbed (8).


In conclusion, today popularity of selfie is very likely to correlate with the increasing intensity of narcissism in social media environment. Although much concern and effort has been invested in analyzing these cyber phenomenons, both of them still require further examination. Probably, selfie will be a continuing trend, especially among young people. Considering Facebook’s latest mode of profile picture, where users can upload a brief video instead of an image, in the future, video selfies could possibly take over to lead online communication.


  1. Barry, C., T., Doucette, H., Loflin, D., C., Rivera-Hudson, N., Herrington L., L., 2015. “Let Me Take a Selfie”: Associations Between Self-Photography, Narcissism, and Self-Esteem. Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
  1. Cohen, D., 2016. Selfies, Narcissism and Social Media (Infographic). Adweek [online], 06 January 2016. Available from: [Accessed 07 March 2016].
  1. Day, E., 2013. How selfies became a global phenomenon. The Guardian [online], 14 July 2013. Available from: [Accessed 07 March 2016].
  1. Hart, A., 2014. Generation selfie: Has posing, pouting and posting turned us all into narcissists? The Independent [online], 5 December 2014. Available from: [Accessed 07 March 2016].
  1. Knibbs, K., 2013. Selfies are now the most popular genre of photo; in related news everyone’s the worst. Digital Trends [online], 20 June 2013. Available from: [Accessed 07 March 2016].
  1. Molloy, A., 2013. Year of the Selfie: The birth – and death – of 2013’s biggest star trend. The Independent [online], 24 December 2013. Available from: [Accessed 07 March 2016].
  1. Odell, A., 2015. What Selfies Really Say About You — and Your Friends.The Independent [online], 21 July 2015. Available from: [Accessed 07 March 2016].
  1. Tate, A., 2013. President Obama Selfie: Obama Takes Photo During Nelson Mandela Memorial Service In South Africa. International Business Times [online], 10 December 2013. Available from: [Accessed 07 March 2016].
  1. Weiser, E., B., 2015. #Me: Narcissism and its facets as predictors of selfie-posting frequency. Personality and Individual Differences, 86. 477–481
  2. Berriman, L., and Thomson, R., 2015. Spectacles of intimacy? Mapping the morallandscape of teenage social media. Journal of Youth Studies, 18 (5), 583–597

Goth Subculture: Among Artistic and Belief


It might be easy for most people to identify individuals belonging to the Goth subculture when they see them in New York, London or even a conservative country such as Saudi Arabia. Due to the obvious stereotypes associated with them, they are identifiable from their choice of dress. In contrast, their historical facet could be ambiguous for many people owing to confusion between Goths and Punks. History of Goths.

Some would argue that the Goth subculture developed throughout punk movements during the 1970s and1980s in Britain (5). While (8) Weston and Bennett (2013) said that the Goth subculture emerged from Pagan folk music, which took place in some celebrations and conferences. However, it is widely agreed that there is correlation between the Goth subculture and Punk movement in their historical development (5).


The best way to identify the difference between the Punk movement and Goth subculture might be to give a definition of both. The Goth subculture, according to (8)Weston and Bennett (2013, p .65) is “a change of music and fashion (artistic) appropriated religious iconography from a variety of sources, Catholic, Anglican, pagan”. Whereas the punk movement refers to young people who refuse to follow any political or religious authority(5).

The most interesting aspect of the Goth subculture is their music. Hence, Goth music or so-called Goth rock is a genre of rhythms almost described as black music. This definition comes from people who adapted to listening to Goth music according to a survey conducted by (5)Lauren (et al. 2007). Black is the most commonly used adjective to describe this kind of music. So this description may be obscure as it is related to individual requirements and their necessity. Moreover, the lyrics of Goth music seem to be meaningless and related to sadness. It is associated with intellectual movements such as horror, fantasy and nihilism (6). Gothic Rock

In some circumstances, Goth culture seems to have responsible elements beyond some issues such as vehemence, suicide and drug abuse. It is particularly prevalent among teenagers (7). Rutledge (et al. 2008) said that the Goth subculture tends to tempt young people with psychological issues such as anxiety and frustration. It might encourage them to commit crimes through an enthusiastic atmosphere from music and friends. What’s more, (5) Lauren (et al. 2007) points out that in the middle of the 19th century, many American newspapers highlighted the dangers of the Goth subculture, due to rising deviancy among the Goth people.

Goth people would argue that the media always portrays the Goth culture as a danger to society. In fact, the Goth subculture is constituted from music bands and members are considered creative people. In other words, most Goths are peaceful, tolerant and open-minded (5).


Furthermore, the Internet has spread the Goth subculture in many societies. Initially, Goths spread from the UK to the US in the mid 1990s with the emergence of the World Wide Web. Currently, Goths have a large number of websites that provide information for fans, as well as websites selling Goth clothes and makeup (3) (David 2015) Fashion

Furthermore, many applications serve the Goth subculture in diverse ways. Snapchat, Tumbler and Facebook gather a community of individuals that have the same interest in Goth subculture and provide opportunities for them to make friends (5). Lauren (et al. 2007) state that the Internet has promoted Goth culture to be an international movement. It has also maintained the vitality of the Goth subculture according to (4) Hebdig (1979) resistant fatal is helped to move the culture which mean that The rise of the Internet and social media has expanded Goth subcultures worldwide and attracted a larger swathe of people, particularly adolescents.

Moreover, the Goth subculture has emerged in Saudi Arabia especially among university students. The presence of Goth culture in a country such as Saudi Arabia, which is known globally as a conservative country has a slightly different indication. In other words, the Saudi Goths follow the original Goth subculture in the external appearance. For instance, they will mimic the clothing and style but refuse to adhere to original Goth beliefs. This is because Goth beliefs are contrary to the norms of Islam, which prohibits many aspects of their beliefs such as suicide (1). However, research by (2) Ashaalan (et al. 2013) confirmed that subculture movements influence university students. Likewise, the increase in Internet access and global travel have spread the culture.

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To conclude, although the Goth culture has a bright side which is related to music and some fantastic fashion, the other side related to their beliefs could be a risk for young people all over the world, particularly with the popularity of technology nowadays.


(1)Alotibi, G., 2013. The GOTH culture spreaded in Saudi Arabia. AlZaman. [online] Available from: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

(2)Ashaala, L., Ashaala, L. and Algadhee, N., 2013. Prevalence Of The Emotional (Emo) Subculture Among University Students In Saudi Arabi. Journal of International Education Research, [online] 9 (4), 351. Available from: http://file:///C:/Users/Mriam%20Pc/Downloads/8087-32241-1-PB%20(1).pdf [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

(3) David, 2010. Myths and Stories: Goth Stereotypes. [online] Gothtypes Wiki. Available from: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

(4)HEBDIGE, D., 1979. SUBCULTURE THE MEANING OF STYLE. 1st ed. [ebook] LONDON AND NEWYORK. Available from: [Accessed 5 Mar. 2016].

(5)Lauren, M., Goodlad, E. and Bibby, M., 2007. Goth:Undead Subculture. 1st ed. [ebook] london. Available from: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].

(6)Punter, D., 2015. The Gothic. 1st ed. [ebook] Available from: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016

(7)Rutledge, C., Rimer, D. and Scott, M., 2008. Vulnerable Goth Teens: The Role of Schools in This Psychosocial High-Risk Culture. Journal of School Health, 78 (9), 459-464.

(8)Weston, D., 2013. Pop Pagans:Pagaism and Popular music. 1st ed. [ebook] london and newyork: Acumen. Available from: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].


The Saudi rapper Qusaii Khodr from articulating the position of Arab women in Islam to admitting we cannot live without ‘’Eve.”


Scholars overwhelmingly agree that hip hop can be attributed to the African, Caribbean and Latin American communities of 1970s New York (Waters, 2014). BBC News published an article in 2015 revealing that break dancing is the original dance of hip hop, which was a popular style from the 1970s until the mid-1980s (2).

Osumare (2001) indicates that hip hop has achieved global importance in several countries as it has supported marginalised communities by giving them a voice and fighting racism.  As a result, hip hop seems to be a growing culture in Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia due to the dramatic increase in the use of social media, with 72% of people participating in societal/political change and working as a community activist (Dubai School of Government, 2011).

The participation of Saudi students who have studied in Western countries is other reason for the emergence of hip hop in Saudi culture. For example, 29-year-old Qusayy Khodr has spent part of his life in the United States for academic proposes and also to satisfy his desire to improve his talents in hip hop. After he returned from the US in 1994, be began to create rap songs with his friends. He asserts that spreading hip hop in Saudi Arabia and the whole of the Middle East is his core aim. Through doing so he wants to address negative stereotypes and reinforce positive impressions of Arab people (Khater, 2010).


One of the controversial issues that Khodr’s songs addresses in the abuse of women, in particular Arabic women. He has released a new song called “Eve” with the aim of increasing awareness among men that women deserve to be respected and not abused by men, should be free to succeed in work and education and should see their position in society improved. Moreover, he admits that women are entirely qualified to reach the top peak of excellence as they have a high sense of willingness, perseverance and truthfulness.

Khodr’s song lyrics imply that a woman’s beauty starts in her earliest days and it continues to rise even when they are approaching old age because of everything they give for their families and communities. In an effort to highlight the importance of women in the lives of men, Khodr ends his song by raising the question: “How can Adam live without Eve?”

In the video clip for “Eve, Khodr tries to build a positive image of Arabic people to influence the Western perception of “hijabi women’s” position in the Arab world. He does this by showing that the hijab is not an obstacle to Arab women and does not prevent them from contributing to the media industry and wider world. Secondly, his clip can be seen to target Arab men in an effort to remind those who are abusing their wives, mothers or sisters of the prophet Mohammad’s recommendation pronounced before his death that men must “استوصوا بالنساء خيرا”, which means “treat women kindly”.

The complexity and ambiguity of hip hop has not stopped it from becoming a hybrid culture among the young (Osumare, 2001). He argues that each local culture may add its own flavour to hip hop and by applying this theory the unique features of Arabic “Islamist” hip hop and Western hip hop can be distinguished.

Saudi rapper Qusaii agrees that creating hip hop in Saudi Arabia is a bit of a tightrope act but “at the same time, we don’t have freedom of expression, freedom of speech, so we set up limitations in whatever we do, some people for the fear and some people for the respect” (1).

image1 (1)

Another rapper, Big Hass, has warned that Saudi rappers do not need to copy American rappers but simply need to be faithful to and honest about their own suffering, thoughts and culture. Also, he suggests that the culture of hip hop should be adopted without blind imitation (5). The photo above illustrates the meaning behind Big Hass’s suggestion.

Arab women

To conclude, it seems that the dominance of hip hop in Saudi culture has inspired Saudi hip hop artists to address important issues for citizens and to make their voice heard in the public sphere on contentious topics such as the issue of women rights. In addition, hip hop has aided Saudi rappers to articulate the fact that appreciating the significance of women and respecting them is a fundamental condition of Al Islam despite the misrepresentation of the position of Arab women in Islam in the global media.


  1. AFP, 2012.Rapping with ‘fear and respect’ in Saudi Arabia. [Online] ALARABIYA English. Available from: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  2. BBC News, 2015.The history of hip hop dance. [Online] BBC News. Available from:  [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  3. Dubai school of government, 2011.The role of social media in Arab women’s empowerment. 3. [Online] Dubai: Dubai school of government, p.6. Available from: [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  4. Khater, A., 2010.Sources in the history of the modern Middle East. 2nd ed. North California: Cengage learning, pp.343, 345.
  5. McArthur, R., 2015.Meet Big Hass, the Saudi hip-hop guru who is turning the tables. [Online] Available from:  [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  6. Osumare, H., 2001. Beat streets in the global hood: connective marginalities of the hip hop globe.Journal of American & Comparative Cultures, [online] 24 (1, 2), 171,172,173,174. Available from:  [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016].
  7. Waters, 2014, ‘”Beats, Rhymes, and Life”: Hip hop’s unlikely movement’, Media Development, 61, 4, pp. 5-8, Communication Source, EBSCOhost, [Accessed 8 Mar. 2016]


Food sharing on Instagram: from showing off to Insta-fame

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are”. Youths across the globe are reliving the words from French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin as they photograph and reveal their every meal (1). The advent of social networking sites (SNSs) lent strength to this phenomenon and as research shows, Instagram is the most used site for food pictures among 18-20 year-olds (2). The most popular hashtags on the site include #food and #foodporn,  accumulating over 170 million posts and 77 million respectively.

A recent study by Holmberg et al. in 2015 (3), which analysed 1001 Instagram accounts, found two main ways that people present their food. One is where they focus on the aesthetic or quality features of the food, specially expressing their palatability; while the other includes people or locations in the images, thus declaring food as a part of lifestyle.


Attempting to explain the phenomenon, a psychiatrist associates the deepest connection we have with our early caretaker with the love for food. In a different light, people might share food pictures as they recommend (or NOT) places/dishes to friends, or merely to document their life (1). However, the need to enhance self-identity through food sharing seems emergent among youth, which is a diverse cycle of “self-expression, projection, reflection and presentation” (p. 248) (4) and will be discussed in this blog post.

Albers, a psychologist specializing in eating issues, listed 10 specific reasons why people would post food pictures on SNSs, and 5 of them serve the higher willingness of self-expressing. Firstly, posting a good meal you had is much quicker and more mouth-watering than describing it to your friends verbally; it would be even more like-worthy if it is a weird or exotic meal. Research from Fewell (2) cites a notable line from a participant, saying how people try to show they have a better time and food than everyone else: “A sense that they’re there and you’re not”. Secondly, showing how mindfully one eats with images of healthy meals, or how one successfully creates that masterpiece on a plate is another common, if not the most, motive.


Finally, keeping a food journal on SNSs signals a lot about one’s personality and lifestyle. The NY Times gave an example of a 28 year-old accomplished woman meeting her current boyfriend through a matchmaker – who saw the two’s comments on food pictures and found them compatible.

As put by boyd (2014) (5), people share information on SNSs “to see and be seen” (p. 203). Seeking social validation is one of men’s most distinctive drives, and in order to feel valued and respected by our peers, we might do so at the cost of others (2), in this case, seeing our friends jealous might actually be ego-uplifting. Supporting this assertion, Holmberg et al.’s research (3) found that almost 75% of food image descriptions referred to positive feelings and emotions, and only 20% focused on the food itself. They further suggested that food is no less than objects in identity forming among adolescents, which comes through the reactions of the audience on SNSs (4).

Recognizing how a gold mine this thriving trend is, big brands are paying popular food bloggers to take over their accounts and create recipes for the audience to see. According to The Telegraph, an Instagram star was handed over a kitchen appliance brand’s account for £5,000. The newspaper also gave an example of Zee, who started a simple photographic project out of his love for shape and color, now has acquired 500,000 followers for his account @Symmetry Breakfast. Numerous brands had been gifting him in hopes of his endorsement, which is hard-earned if he does not genuinely like them.


@Symmetry Breakfast

Similarly, another 28 year-old woman turned her short-lived excitement of making healthy food with a spiralizer into a serious career (6). With 130,000 followers under her belt, she had published a cookbook and can earn up to $1,500 for each post that she uses a specific brand’s product on Instagram.



Berriman and Thomson (7), in examining different cultural positions that the youths inhabit on social media, came up with 4 quadrants that measure visibility and participation. The Instagram stars – or Internet celebs as they call them – are highly visible and participative. As they cultivate content from themselves, something that starts out as “just for fun” turns into an economically valuable asset. The term “playbour” (combining “play” and “labour”) thus was coined to describe this transformation from aspirational young media users. The vast number of followers that Instagram stars crave to achieve is evidence for Lukacs’ assertion that, increasing human capital is the way in this digital economy (8). Despite the chance for a likelihood of accumulating a wide enough audience being slim, the trend of commodifying something that started as a gift (i.e. sharing a hobby, an interest) is apparent (9).

To conclude, food sharing is seen dominant among youths nowadays and, similar to other forms of self-disclosure on SNSs, is likely to stay. Beside different sets of motives, young people now cherish the dream of becoming Internet stars and earn a living based on the number of their followers. Though called a “pipe dream”, one should never be stopped to dream and cultivate on their strength.


(1) Murphy, K., 2010. First camera, Then Fork. The New York Times [online], 6 April 2010. Available from: [Accessed 5 March 2016].

(2) Fewell, K., 2013. Why do people share food photographs via social media channels? Slideshare [online], 22 September 2013. Available from: [Accessed 5 March 2016].

(3) Holmberg, C., Chaplin, J., Hillman, T. and Berg, C., 2015. Adolescents’ presentation of food in social media: An explorative.  Appetite [online], 99, 121-129.

(4) Androulaki, M., 2014. Aetherspheres: spatial sensitivity and self-awareness in food and social media prosuming practices [online]. Thesis (PhD). University of Edinburgh.

(5) Boyd, D., 2014. It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens. London: Yale University press.

(6) Elle, 2015. How These 6 All Stars Turned Instagram Into a Full-Time Job. Elle [online], 2015. Available from: [Accessed 5 March 2016].

(7) Berriman, L. and Thomson, R., 2015. Spectacles of intimacy? Mapping the moral landscape of teenage social media. Journal of Youth Studies [online], 18 (5), 583-597.

(8) Lukacs, G., 2015. The labors of cute: Net Idols, Cute Culture, and the Digital Economy in Contemporary Japan. positions [online], 23(3), pp.487-513.

(9) MacRury, I., 2013. Back to the future: Gifts, friendship and the re-figuration of advertising space. In: McAllister, M. and West, E., eds. The routledge companion to advertising and promotional culture. New York: Routledge, 357-372.

Spector, F., 2016. How Instagram is turning home cooks into food stars. The Telegraph [online], 15 January 2016. Available from: [Accessed 5 March 2016].

Albers, S., 2010. 10 Reasons Why People Post Food Pictures on Facebook. Psychology Today [online], 10 August 2010. Available from: [Accessed 5 March 2016].