Selfie Book Summary - Selfie Book explained in key points
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Selfie summary

Will Storr

How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us

4.1 (33 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

Selfie by Will Storr explores the roots of Western individualism, how it's shaped by social media, and how our obsession with self-image can lead to disconnection and anxiety. It challenges us to rethink our sense of self and embrace a more empathetic worldview.

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    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 6

    The way we think about our bodies is heavily influenced by the cultures we live in.

    What’s the quickest way to feel bad about yourself?

    For the author, it’s a look in the mirror. Every time he catches sight of his own reflection, he starts judging his appearance. Why, he wonders, is his stomach so much bigger than it should be? But then again, why shouldn’t it be the size it is – where does the pressure to be slim and toned come from?

    Well, our bodily ideals are shaped by the culture we’ve grown up in.

    Take weight: A sleek physique is highly prized in the Western world, but that’s not the case everywhere. In Tanzania, for example, the opposite is true. Fat is valued as a symbol of high status.

    The Western ideal of the perfect body has a unique history, with roots that stretch all the way back to the earliest European culture: ancient Greece.

    Think of the appearance of mythical figures like Hercules or Adonis: they wouldn’t be out of place on the cover of Men’s Health with their chiseled muscles and perfect pelvic v-lines.

    That means our ideas about what our perfect selves should look like are still being shaped by the thoughts and beliefs of people who lived more than two-and-a-half-thousand years ago!

    But it’s not just body image that’s shaped by culture. The very way we think – our cognition – is also determined by the environment around us.

    Most people in the West receive a formal education where they’re taught to analyze and measure information, meaning that they see the world a certain way. As a result, we think that everyone sees things this way, but that’s not the case.

    Consider the Himba people of Namibia: They live a semi-nomadic lifestyle completely isolated from the modern world. As they don’t receive a Western education, the Himba consider information differently. When the neuroscientist Professor Sophie Scott asked the Himba to analyze the emotional connection to certain sounds, for example, they couldn’t, as Himba culture doesn’t teach that form of thinking.

    In short, the way we think about the world is heavily influenced by the culture and society in which we live.

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    What is Selfie about?

    Selfie (2017) takes a hard look at today’s internet-driven age of self-obsession. Asking where our ideal of the perfect person came from, acclaimed British journalist Will Storr traces the history of the self from ancient Greece to the social-media-heavy world of selfies and Instagram brunch pics. Along the way, he picks out a multitude of fascinating facts about the political, cultural and economic factors that have shaped the Western world’s notion of who we should be and what we should look like.

    Selfie Review

    Selfie (2017) explores the roots and consequences of our modern obsession with self-image, uncovering the psychological, cultural, and historical forces that shape our identities. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a thought-provoking analysis of how our obsession with self-image impacts our mental health and well-being.
    • The book provides insightful interviews and case studies that shed light on the complex relationship between self and society.
    • With its engaging storytelling and nuanced exploration of the selfie phenomenon, the book challenges our assumptions and prompts critical reflection.

    Who should read Selfie?

    • Fans and foes of social media
    • Anyone who’s wondered where our culture’s heading
    • History and politics buffs

    About the Author

    Will Storr is an award-winning writer, journalist and photographer. The recipient of the prestigious National Press Club award, his previous books include The Heretics and The Hunger and Howling of Killian Lone. He has also written for the Guardian and Times Magazine.

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    Selfie FAQs 

    What is the main message of Selfie?

    The main message of Selfie is exploring the dark side of our obsession with ourselves.

    How long does it take to read Selfie?

    The reading time for Selfie varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Selfie a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Selfie is a thought-provoking book that challenges our self-obsessed culture. It offers valuable insights into the impact of social media on our lives.

    Who is the author of Selfie?

    The author of Selfie is Will Storr.

    What to read after Selfie?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Selfie, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
    • The Big Disconnect by Catherine Steiner-Adair
    • Survival of the Prettiest by Nancy Etcoff
    • Dopamine Detox by Thibaut Meurisse
    • How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
    • Coach Builder by Donald Miller
    • Partnering by Jean Oelwang
    • Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen
    • Speed Reading by Kam Knight
    • Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino