Advantages and Disadvantages of Selfie Culture in the Philippines

Even before the proliferation of selfie-centric smartphones in the Philippines, Pinoys who love pointing the cameras to their faces instead of what's in front of them have often been described as selfish and self-consumed.

Today, with the rise of social media sites and apps like Facebook and Instagram, many Filipino selfie-snappers continue to find themselves on the receiving end of personal attacks and bashing.

Disparaging phrases and words like "Gandang Ganda sa Sarili", "Nagmamaganda", "Gwapong Gwapo sa Sarili", "Feeling Artista", "Model-Modelan" have been coined to douse the spirit and even to shame those who enjoy uploading photos of their faces - taken by them - on social networking sites.

Selfie

But are selfie snappers as self-centered as many believe them to be? Based on a psychologist's claim, that's not always the case. In fact, in many instances, it's not true at all.

The Good Side

Ma. Fiona Ella G. Sandoval, MA RPsy - a licensed professional affiliated with the MLAC Institute for Psychosocial Services - shared that there is a more positive side to the selfie culture among Pinoys, young and old.

To quote Ms. Sandoval: "Some recent local studies show that selfie-taking and other social media activities have a strong familial and community element among Filipinos. More than just looking at the selfie phenomenon as an individualistic activity, let’s look at the instances when we take them. Selfie-takers usually document important moments shared with their loved ones, travel destinations, or just to share daily moments with friends and family members who live or work abroad."

This statement is in line with what was disclosed in a Culture Trip article titled "How Manila Became the Selfie Capital of the World".

According to the piece, Filipino selfie-snapped often produce a bulk of shots simply to satisfy familial obligations. To be specific, family photos, groufies with friends, or selfies in famous landmarks are often snapped and shared to reassure family members of one's whereabouts and safety.

Selfie

In the Philippines, where family ties are close-knit and friends are often treated as extended family, everyone has plenty of special moments to document almost anytime, anywhere. This could explain the thousands of selfies uploaded on Facebook or Instagram from our country every minute or so.

The Bad Side

After acknowledging the possible advantages of the selfie culture in our country, Ms. Sandoval, warned that there's a potential for all selfie-takers to take the hobby of self-portraiture to a more disadvantageous or even dangerous level.

She said, "If you have reached a point wherein taking selfies occupy most of your time and robs you of being able to savor and appreciate the present, take a short break each day from all the selfies you feel you must make. But in moderation and when appropriate - when it doesn’t take up too much of your time, doesn’t disrupt your life, and done for the right reasons - selfie-taking is for the good and can be a self-enhancing hobby. Selfies are all about keeping treasured memories in a digital format and bonding with loved ones."

Ms. Sandoval also emphasized the importance of mindfulness or living self-aware in the present as an important key to live a more meaningful life in the digital age. She noted, "As said by the monk Thich Nhat Hanh, the present moment is the only moment there is for us to be alive. Don’t wait for your digital activities to disrupt or damage your relationships or routines critical for survival."

Apart from the danger of missing out on the present, snapping selfies - when done without care or caution - can lead to physical harm. To be specific, there have been cases in the Philippines and in other countries wherein certain individuals accidentally fell from a flight of stairs, off cliffs, or even from several floors of a building in an effort to snap the best facial angle in their selfies.

Again, the key is to be present in the moment and be aware of your surroundings even when you are taking your self-portraits. Never lose sight of what's truly important.

Mindful Marketing by Companies That Make Selfie-Centric Smartphones

While moving or selling products is the main motivation of all brands in making advertisements, I believe that tech companies which make devices that consumers use on a daily basis to interact with other people should practice depth and wisdom in crafting campaigns; Meaningful ads can really affect users in positive way as we all face the challenges of the digital world.

This is why I am grateful that OPPO Mobile Philippines is currently very active in coming up with promos that encourage Filipinos to rise above the challenges of selfie culture and to use selfies to celebrate what's good in them.

For instance, the company's "OPPO F7 Advocacy Against Online Bashing" is a brave stand against online negativity, especially in this day and age when leaving nasty comments in social media is seemingly becoming a trend among Pinoy netizens. Filipino Celebrities Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia, who were tapped to be part of this meaningful project, encouraged everyone to not only shrug negativity off, but to capture their real selves through the selfies that they take on their OPPO F7.

On top of that, in 2017, OPPO Mobile Philippines organized a National Selfie Day celebration at Enchanted Kingdom, where loyal OPPO fans spent a fun-filled afternoon with their families, loved ones, and friends, documenting their special moments through selfies. This was another way that the company showed how taking selfies can be used for good.

Conclusion

Even before the age of smartphones, many Filipinos have always pointed the camera to their faces. As such, I personally don't think snapping selfies is a mere trend or even just a phenomenon. Here in our country, clearly, it is part of the culture. Be it with a smartphone or with whatever new camera-laden gadget will rise in the future, Filipinos will continue to take selfies. I am hoping that moving forward, we can all use this particular interest to build stronger ties with our loved ones and to make positive change in our communities.

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