One afternoon when feeling particularly nosy, I asserted my "mom rights" and grabbed my daughter's phone. Scrolling through her Instagram app, I saw masses of cute, tween girls in various selfie poses. I clicked one of her random girlfriends and scrolled through her posted photos. Can you guess the subject of this gal's dozens of photos? No surprise – it was her. Lounging in bed, sitting up, hanging upside down, playing with her hair and all the while trying to dazzle the camera, this girl made Kim Kardashian look shy.
None of this is unusual. Most of us have taken or seen hundreds of similar pictures on social media. But still, I cringed at her vanity. I wondered what her mother thought, or if she ever checked her daughter's Instagram posts. Maybe she did. Maybe she thought her daughter's selfie photo shoots were normal and sweet.
When friends and followers "like" our selfies, it's a confidence boost. It's a validation of our identity. The nice comments help us feel pretty or popular. So there are some positives to all that narcissism, right?
Some believe the selfie orgy is a trend, a passing fad that will someday die down. With the many news stories of young people taking selfies at inappropriate times or locations, it's hopeful that all of us will at least reconsider our selfie manners. The teen who posted a smiling selfie at Auschwitz (and later defended her picture), kids doing the same at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, or those who take selfies at funerals probably don't understand why their phones should be tucked away.
Here are some moments that it's fine to take (and possibly post) a self-portrait.
When your intention isn't to make others feel excluded, it's OK to cozy up to your friends and take and post a picture.
If you don't have a head lice epidemic in your area, it's probably safe to lean in and take a selfie with your friends. See this article on the head lice problem.
If you wonder what your eye makeup really looks like, lower your lids and take a few shots of your face. I did this recently, and was disheartened to see that my eye shadow has looked all wrong for the past decade.
If you're not driving (with your car's wheels in motion on a road), taking a picture of yourself is OK.
When you feel like sharing a cheerful smile rather than a sexy pout, grimace or smug expression, your friends and followers may appreciate your picture more.
When you want to share a special, cuddly moment with your kids or spouse at an appropriate place, lean in together and click.
If you're typically camera shy and don't have many photos of yourself for your posterity to enjoy, experiment with selfies. Capture your best look and delete the others.
If you're traveling and want to document your trip with yourself in front of cool landmarks, click away. But make sure the location allows photos, and don't get carried away with the number of pictures you post. Your friends probably think fewer is better.
When you're not showing off an unsightly background, like a toilet or dirty laundry, it's probably OK to take a selfie.
If you're dressed, that helps too. Lots of girls like to pose in bed, which seems a bit suggestive. Or maybe I'm just old-fashioned?
Moderation in anything is usually the rule to follow. But if you or your selfie-obsessed children immediately start contorting your mouths into duck faces at the mere appearance of a camera, just put it away.