Dr Michelle Dickinson, also known as Nanogirl, is an Auckland University nanotechnologist who is passionate about getting Kiwis hooked on science.

Nanogirl Michelle Dickinson: Selfies kill more people than sharks

Ellen Degeneres' selfie pic from the 2014 Oscars has been called the best photo ever.
Ellen Degeneres' selfie pic from the 2014 Oscars has been called the best photo ever.

Taking a photo of your own face and sharing it with the world is now such a common occurrence that the word "selfie" was recently added to our dictionaries.

What has been labelled a millennial narcissistic act is likely to become the greatest photographic trend that will define this era.

This selfie craze has generated a new technology industry financed by the need for tools to help people create their perfect photo.

Mobile devices are now equipped with front facing cameras and flash screens, extending metal poles are carried around for instant access selfie sticks, and software apps are designed to beautify the face for an improved digital copy of yourself.

Although a study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences found that there was a relationship between posting lots of selfies and psychopathic and narcissistic traits, it should be said that not all selfie-posters are narcissists.

Selfies are however more dangerous that sharks.

Carnegie Mellon University's researcher Hemank Lamba found that 73 people died from selfies in the first eight months of 2016.

His research obtained from scouring global newspapers showed reports of selfie induced cliff falls, train impacts and drownings which seem significant when compared to the four people reported to have died from shark attacks in the same year.

Ignoring deaths and psychopathic traits, taking selfies isn't always a bad thing and some psychologists argue that the rise in selfies reflects a new form of communication where the photo isn't provided just for observation, but to be used as a way to start and engage in conversations with friends.

These virtual conversations are becoming a growing way for like-minded individuals to share their stories in a social circle that spans the interconnected digital world.

Although selfies are a global trend, they are not the same around the world.

A study presented at the Association for Computing Machinery conference concluded that females in countries with higher gender equality were more comfortable sharing selfies publically than in less gender equal countries.

After studying over 5 million Instagram users, they found that South Korea ranked top for female prevalence of selfies with 71% of its selfies shared by female users.

At the other end of the table countries including Nigeria, Egypt and Kuwait showed a very heavy male selfie bias with only 28% of its selfies from females.

After studying 2000 selfies on Instagram research out this week from La Trobe University found that there seems to be a selfie side.

The data showed that over than 40 per cent of selfie takers repeatedly chose to showcase their left side and only 20 per cent took their selfie face on.

It seems that regardless of gender, left cheek forward is the favourite for creating the perfect pose.

This asymmetry has been used for centuries by artists who thought the left side of the face was more expressive, possibly because its controlled by the emotive right side of the brain.

European and American art museums report that over 55 percent of their portraits face the left side of the canvas and interestingly crucifixion scenes of Jesus suffering on the cross show an even stronger bias, with over 90 percent facing left.

This bias was independent of whether the artists themselves were left- or right-handed.

So it seems that selfie takers have more in common with da Vinci's Mona Lisa than originally thought, and perhaps selfie taking is more artistic than given credit for.

However, with young women discarding on average six selfies for each one that they upload, the digital advantage may give millennials a slight edge over Mona.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Dr Michelle Dickinson, also known as Nanogirl, is an Auckland University nanotechnologist who is passionate about getting Kiwis hooked on science.

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 26 May 2017 19:44:47 Processing Time: 821ms