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Killing Me Selfie


Why are people dying for a cool vacation photo? Dr. Sarah Diefenbach of the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich details the psychology of selfies and we learn the French term for the feeling that makes people do stupid things.


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Show Notes:

First Stop:

This story about selfie deaths by Kathryn Miles really got us thinking about why people take risks to get the perfect shot -- and why we take risks in general. It also got us thinking about how humans doing risky things isn't necessarily new.


For example, this collection of cautionary tales reminds us that people have been putting themselves in danger at Yellowstone National Park well before there were easily portable cameras to mug for. So what's behind the uptick in serious injuries and deaths?


Are selfies evidence that humans are becoming more narcissistic? Or are we just reimagining how we document our lives and present ourselves using new technology?

This DW slideshow reminds us that experimenting with ways to promote and manipulate one's own self-image has long been a theme among master artists -- including Rembrandt, Warhol and Ai Weiwei. So why shouldn't ordinary people do the same? In an age where even those in the non-business world can discuss the importance of building a personal brand, it seems almost inevitable.


Interview: Dr. Sarah Diefenbach

Dr. Sarah Diefenbach, a professor for market and consumer psychology at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, says that selfies are a bit of a double-edged sword. People take them for a variety of reasons. And we seem to like taking them more than we like seeing them. (Well, other people's selfies, anyway.)


She's studied selfies in-depth. In 2017, Dr. Diefenbach and her colleague Lara Christoforakos published a study detailing over 200 subjects’ experience with selfies. We've included a link to it for you below:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312584078_The_Selfie_Paradox_Nobody_Seems_to_Like_Them_Yet_Everyone_Has_Reasons_to_Take_Them_An_Exploration_of_Psychological_Functions_of_Selfies_in_Self-Presentation


If you're not quite ready to dive into the study at the moment, this Psychology Today article about our dislike of other people's selfies that cites Christ and Diefenbach's research is a good starting point. It also references Washington State University's Instagram selfie research led by Christopher Barry. As an added bonus, WSU's study has a punny title that appeals to my (Alicia's) long-term crush on Ice Cube. (Also, how did we not think of this as an episode name?!)


Language Love:

L'appel du vide (French)

The call of the void.

You've felt it. It's the almost irresistible pull to get to close to the edge of the cliff, to turn the steering wheel into traffic, to cycle inches from the ridgeline, just to see what happens.


So get out of your comfort zone, friends. But resist l'appel du vide. We want to see you back here for our next episode.


What about you?

When have you felt the call of the void?

Is getting a cool photo worth the risk? Why or why not?

How has an audience (in person or online) changed your photo taking behavior?

Comment below or send us an email at traveltomorrowpod@gmail.com.

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