Why are we more comfortable sharing a selfie than sharing a professional achievement?

Updated: Aug 6

For many people around the world, taking a selfie has become a daily activity to express themselves and celebrate every life moment (the good, the bad and the mundane).

Whether it’s a pre-gym workout post, a self-portrait with your newly adopted dog or the one that usually requires the most time to get right, the 'natural' selfie (often taken in the bathroom mirror or near the biggest window in your house for best light and authenticity). Now I know that none of this is new or a groundbreaking discovery, but what I have recently observed is how we view traditional acts of self-promotion like sharing our own work or positive feedback, as more self-indulgent than sharing a selfie. We spend a significant amount of time art directing and preparing for a photo, but claim that sharing something professional is just too cringey.. feels slightly contradictory, no?

So why do we feel more comfortable doing it? Validation? Enjoyment? Or is it because society has led us to believe it’s how we gain social currency? Whatever the reason, the reality is, if we tried to cash it in it would unlikely amount to anything substantial.

When I set up F*ck Being Humble, I always knew I would face skepticism and resistance when encouraging people to ‘be their own best hype-man’ or ‘care less and share more’. But what I don’t think I was necessarily prepared for was how low on the priority list self-promotion really is for so many. And when I say self-promotion, I mean being comfortable with sharing content about yourself and actively taking steps to accelerate your career, reputation, or dreams, not just increasing the admiration of your glossy hair. Now, I am absolutely not saying I’m averse to taking a selfie, in fact I’ll admit, I was actually an early adopter of the Myspace dusty mirror selfie aged 14 (thankfully deleted and no longer on the web to be found). But what I’ve realised a decade later, is that although selfies might provide me with instant gratification and validation, there are little, to no, long term benefits I’m left with (unsurprisingly, as I’m not trying to be a model or beauty influencer). The selfies I’ve taken don’t provide me with purpose, pride, or achievements to reflect on later down the line. And they absolutely haven’t generated any new business or improved my professional reputation….if anything, they’ve probably done the opposite.

But this article isn’t about selfie-shaming, it’s a reality check read. I want you to weigh up the hours you spend (or have spent) crafting your perfectly curated self-image, and ask yourself, could you have spent your time more productively? Did those hours picking the best filter or thinking up a witty caption actually boost your presence on social media? We spend a lot of time hiding behind our low confidence, being labeled an introvert and not having shareable achievements to promote, but we also spend a lot of our time on things we won’t be remembered for in 10 days time let alone 10 years time.

It might be worth asking yourself, could that selfie be swapped with a recent project you successfully completed? Could you replace the 40 minute-makeover time with following people on social media who might be able to connect you with new opportunities? Or could you share advice that can genuinely help people, whilst simultaneously putting your name on the map? Having a perfectly curated feed with the sole aim of being #instagoals is addictive but sadly it isn’t going to pay your rent every month or improve the way you're viewed professionally.

I promise I am not writing this article to stop anyone from taking selfies (seriously snap away). I just want to be the reminder, that you get noticed based on the content you put out to the world. So if it's only ever a reflection of your face in front of a ring light, you might be waiting a long time to celebrated as a trailblazer in your industry. You are more than a dusty mirror selfie, so don't let that be your only legacy.


For more tips on self-promotion, follow us Instagram and Twitter, and purchase our book on topic 'F*ck Being Humble: Why self-promotion isn't a dirty word'

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