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Selfie : how we became so self-obsessed and what it's doing to us / Will Storr.

By: Storr, Will [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London, England : Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, 2017Copyright date: ©2017Description: 397 pages ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781447283645; 1447283643; 9781447283652; 1447283651.Subject(s): Self-perception | Self-presentation | Self-portraits -- Social aspects | Self-portraits -- Psychological aspects | Social mediaDDC classification: 155.2 Summary: We live in an age of perfectionism. Every day, we're bombarded with the beautiful, successful, slim, socially-conscious and extroverted individual that our culture has decided is the perfect self. We see this person constantly in shop windows, in newspapers, on the television, at the movies and all over our social media. We berate ourselves when we don't match up to them - when we're too fat, too old, too poor or too sad. This cycle can be extremely bad for us. In recent years, psychologists have even begun to think that many people take their own lives because of the impossible standards that are set for who they ought to be.Will Storr began to wonder about this perfect self that torments so many of us. Who, actually, is this person? Why does it hold such power over us? Could it be humanity's deadliest idea? And, if so, is there any way we can break its spell?To find out, Storr takes us on a journey from the shores of Ancient Greece, through the Christian Middle Ages, the encounter groups of 1960s California and self-esteem evangelists of the late twentieth century to modern-day America, where research suggests today's young people are in the grip of an epidemic of narcissism. He'll tell the strange story of the individualist Western self from its birth on the Aegean to the era of hyper-individualistic neoliberalism in which we find ourselves today. "Selfie" reveals, for the first time, the epic tale of the person we all know so intimately . . . because it's us.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

'Fascinating' Guardian
'Brilliant' Evening Standard
'Electrifying' Financial Times
'So interesting I literally couldn't put it down' Sunday Times

We live in the age of the individual. We are supposed to be slim, prosperous, happy, extroverted and popular. This is our culture's image of the perfect self. We see this person everywhere: in advertising, in the press, all over social media. We're told that to be this person you just have to follow your dreams, that our potential is limitless, that we are the source of our own success.

But this model of the perfect self can be extremely dangerous. People are suffering under the torture of this impossible fantasy. Unprecedented social pressure is leading to increases in depression and suicide. Where does this ideal come from? Why is it so powerful? Is there any way to break its spell?

To answer these questions, Selfie by Will Storr takes us from the shores of Ancient Greece, through the Christian Middle Ages, to the self-esteem evangelists of 1980s California, the rise of narcissism and the selfie generation, and right up to the era of hyper-individualistic neoliberalism in which we live now.

It tells the extraordinary story of the person we all know so intimately - our self.

As featured on Russell Brand's Under The Skin podcast.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

We live in an age of perfectionism. Every day, we're bombarded with the beautiful, successful, slim, socially-conscious and extroverted individual that our culture has decided is the perfect self. We see this person constantly in shop windows, in newspapers, on the television, at the movies and all over our social media. We berate ourselves when we don't match up to them - when we're too fat, too old, too poor or too sad. This cycle can be extremely bad for us. In recent years, psychologists have even begun to think that many people take their own lives because of the impossible standards that are set for who they ought to be.Will Storr began to wonder about this perfect self that torments so many of us. Who, actually, is this person? Why does it hold such power over us? Could it be humanity's deadliest idea? And, if so, is there any way we can break its spell?To find out, Storr takes us on a journey from the shores of Ancient Greece, through the Christian Middle Ages, the encounter groups of 1960s California and self-esteem evangelists of the late twentieth century to modern-day America, where research suggests today's young people are in the grip of an epidemic of narcissism. He'll tell the strange story of the individualist Western self from its birth on the Aegean to the era of hyper-individualistic neoliberalism in which we find ourselves today. "Selfie" reveals, for the first time, the epic tale of the person we all know so intimately . . . because it's us.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Booklist Review

British journalist and novelist Storr (The Unpersuadables, 2013) takes on the ambitious subject of how people think of themselves. He starts with the ancient Greeks, who thought physical beauty and good morals were inseparable, and who venerated the striving individual, in contrast to group-focused Confucianism. In the book's strongest chapter, Good Self, Storr highlights the New Age movement and its roots in 1960s California. By the early 1980s, this same find-the-real-you movement blended with two other forces: neoliberalism's rising attack on Big Government, and the fitness craze, including Jane Fonda's wildly popular 1982 workout video. This mixture gave birth to all-out pursuit of high self-esteem and a generation of kids being told constantly that they were amazing and could achieve anything. Recent research shows, alas, that such hyperpraise mainly just spiked the percentage of narcissistic adults who lash out at anyone who challenges their beliefs. And then there's the Digital Self. Storr is nothing if not open-minded, but he does little to defend this latest form of self-focus from the dogged assertions that life online, especially on social media, is hollow and often malignant. Just the same, the latest from the adroit, widely respected Storr will generate demand.--Carr, Dane Copyright 2018 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Studying self-image from a variety of perspectives.The idea of the self has long fascinated British novelist and journalist Storr (The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science, 2014), and he scrutinizes the topic through both historical and contemporary lenses. The author probes themes of identity and reputation in an anthropologically sound examination of the ancestral tribal brain and the inherent nature of humans to become preoccupied with perfectionism and outward perception. He traces ideas of self-imagery and cultural influence back to ancient Greece, contrasts Confucian and Aristotelian principles, and looks at the work of Ayn Rand. He intermingles these notions with a chronicle of his conversation with a brutish former club bouncer whose violently aggressive demeanor, according to psychologists, stems from low self-esteem issues. Some scientists argue for the significance of threatened masculinity and ego, which correlates to Storr's introduction to the personal growth-focused Esalen Institute, whose main intent remains to improve attendees' general self-esteem. The author's immersion in the encounter groups at the facility's "Big Yurt" provides a revealing look at the individualistic author himself. In another self-commentary, he equates his extra belly fat with a "moral transgression," a failure to match the historically and culturally normative blueprint of what his body should resemble. Reflections on neoliberalism follow a discussion of his extended stay at Silicon Valley's Rainbow Mansion tech commune, where a millennial narcissist obsessively takes hundreds of selfies daily, continually incentivized by social media's virtual validation. The book is uncommonly structured into large segments with text that often glides into a stream-of-consciousness flow, featuring ideas and points of reference that correlate but sometimes seem haphazardly arranged. Nonetheless, Storr continually delivers rich insights, historically grounded conclusions, and more contemporary deliberations on his subject's relevance to the Trump campaign and how to stay hopeful living in a me-first world.Captivating, self-reflective research on our culture of rampant egocentricity. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.