"Selfies", or photos of one's self taken by the photographer, have received mixed signals from readers of the Viet Nam News as the Thai Mental Health Authority warns about their negative impact.
We asked readers for their opinions on the new trend among youngsters to take photos of themselves to share on social media sites.
The topic received mixed feedback from readers. Some say it is a way to show one's self-confidence, while others argue that it may become an unhealthy addiction. Here are some of the readers' comments:
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
It's said a fish is not aware of the water around it until the fish is removed. The same logic applies to those addicted to Facebook, Twitter and selfies. I had to add these words to my 2007 version of Microsoft. It's a sad day for literacy.
Young Canadians are being cyber bullied and are spending even more time indoors. That's not healthy. They don't socialise and have lost the gift of spontaneity. Adults are being phished for identity theft. They take pictures of their lunch but are eating alone more often.
Innocent selfies can be kept and analysed—even sold. Their subjects can be targeted by marketing companies. Selfies can lead to future employers seeing people drunk, tattooed and looking foolish.
This is no longer the stuff of imagination or science fiction. Even turning off smartphones is dumb. Big Brother is real and government spies now compete with advertisers to triangulate people's locations. It is almost enough to seek refuge in a church.
Some restaurants in New York City now restrict cell phone use and do not allow photos of their food. It's time to turn off technology, look up and get out. Selfiesstands for silly, solitary and selfish.
Martin Nguyen, American, Chicago
These days, the term "selfie" is becoming so popular. It describes a new trend among the youth, who are addicted to taking their own pictures and posting them on social network sites. However, people tend to use this term with a negative connotation. Some even consider those who love selfies to be suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder. To me, such judgments are ridiculous. Even though I am not the sort who loves taking selfies, I feel annoyed by these criticisms.
I think some people just exaggerate the issue. They only care about the negative impact and ignore the positive one.
As a matter of fact, taking selfies may have benefits. Let us take my sister's case as an example. My sister used to be a low-tech person. She always felt scared to use and learn about high-tech devices. She rarely used them even though she realized that such devices help people tremendously.
After becoming addicted to selfies, she keeps herself updated on the new kinds of smartphones and tablets. She has learned to use apps that help edit and make pictures more beautiful. She is also not afraid of using high-tech devices anymore.
Moreover, I have noticed that one common factor binds those who are addicted to selfies: most take great care of their appearance. This is because they want to take beautiful pictures of themselves and be ready to take pictures at any time. They know about the new trends in fashion or make up styles. It helps them to become sexier and more gorgeous.
Due to selfies, they are gaining confidence in themselves and are always optimistic. Albert Einstein said it would be hard to be successful in our careers if we did not appreciate ourselves. That is why I think taking selfies is good. At least, in my opinion, those who are addicted to selfies are better than those who constantly criticise other people's hobbies.
However, the Albert Einstein I mentioned above is my classmate and not the famous theoretical physicist.
Thomas Clark, American, Ohio
Calling it "narcissistic culture" is a bit harsh, but I don't just notice the selfie trend among young people. Some of my single friends on Facebook change their profile pictures often, with pictures that they have taken of themselves. With the combination of social media and digital technology, people want others to view their lives and in the way that they see themselves.
It seems that having a friend for the sake of numbers and approval isn't healthy. I see some people on Facebook with thousands of "friends" and they take more selfies than others do.
Social acceptance and gaining it through social media has many pitfalls. People are getting into the habit of relating more with their smartphones than with real people.
Trang Tran, Vietnamese, Virginia, USA
Selfies have become a popular trend all over the world. It has even become a new word, which was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013. Teenagers are mostly interested in this trend. They are young and might not acknowledge the bad side or the consequences of sharing their images on the Internet.
The Thai warning might make sense when teens become addicted to the trend and consider it an essential thing in life. The main aim of selfies is for the user to receive positive comments about their looks. Gradually, the youth may become shallow in their thoughts or have low self-esteem.
Lam Thanh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I do not regard the selfie trend as a new culture. For me, it's more of a craze among youngsters. Nowadays, this group of people have better living conditions and enjoy using the latest technologies, so they can access any trend around the world, selfies included, almost instantly.
Of course, it can be argued that this may cause some mental health issues but only if the selfies are too excessive in both frequency and number, coupled with other indicators, such as photos of people harming themselves or making threatening gestures.
Otherwise, I see it as one of the various ways that people use to mark the moment, show off some new clothing or accessories, or to simply show that they are proud of their appearance.
Trang Pear, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
Selfies have become popular among young people, especially teenagers. They take photos of themselves, post them on Facebook and report every single event that happens in their lives.
This process might sound simple but it actually takes a lot of time. They stay online counting how many "likes" and comments they get. Negative comments might upset them, and not only is it time consuming, it can also cause mental problems because they are too focused and under pressure to post better photos.
Additionally, this self-centred mentality can lead them to forget about social values and personal contact.
I share the same idea as the Thai Department of Mental Health on this that there should be measures to help young people recognise the negative effects Facebook and the selfie "epidemic" can have. — VNS