Selfie Book Cover


How we became so self-obsessed and what it's doing to us
Book by: Will Storr
Publishing Year: 2017
Reading time: Key takeways: Quotes:

What’s inside

In this age of perfectionism, it can be hard to tell what's real and what's not. It can be hard to distinguish between what is important and what just seems so. But how did we get here? In this insight, we explore in depth just how humans became so obsessed with perfection and themselves. We look back at our ancient selves, at our culture, our technology and everything in between, to figure out just how we became so obsessed with ourselves. And lastly, we’ll see how to live our lives in this age of perfection and selfies.

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Lesson 1. Perfection and Suicide

On June 6th,2007, Debbie Hampton, a forty-three-year-old mother of three, swallowed a handful of pills with some cheap Shiraz and tried to take her own life. She had spent all her life chasing perfection, and when she fell short, she felt like a failure. This tortured her to the extent that the only solution she could see was to die.

The human psyche is filled as much with hate as it is with love for ourselves. Sometimes, as in the case of the author, the quickest way to feel bad about oneself is to look in the mirror. We see our imperfections and hate ourselves for them. We chase perfection because we are animals of progress. But this pursuit can leave us dissatisfied. It makes our human-self malfunction.  It can lead us to self-destruction or even suicide. It makes us wish we could vanish. 

Although the overall rates of suicide have seen a general decline since the 1980s, more people today die due to suicide than in all the wars, terrorists, murders, and government incarcerations combined. Over the last few years, a surprising number of people have been a victim of the same narrative that Debbie was. A story of high expectations, dreams of perfection leading to failure and a rejection of self. This then concludes with an impulse to finish it all off, to vanish. Suicide is a catastrophic breakdown in the human self. It's the most extreme form of self-harm there is. And the more we barrel towards a perfectionist version of society, the easier it gets to make the self malfunction. 

Of course, perfectionism isn't absolute. It's a pattern of thinking. Everyone sits somewhere on the scale of perfectionism. We are all guilty of falling prey to this notion. 

We live in an age of perfectionism, but we must be careful because perfection is an idea that has the potential to harm or even kill us.  

Lesson 2. The Story of Self

We are all driven in life by the primal mechanisms within ourselves. We have within us elemental rhythms of hierarchy, territory, and bloody struggle for status and resources. We have existed for eons as groups of hunter-gatherers. The base instincts that come with that live on inside of us. Our tribal self is obsessed with status and hierarchy. Experiments surrounding these factors have found that humans, upon meeting other humans, automatically encode just three points of information about them: age, gender, and race. Despite our knowledge against thinking this way, we are always consciously or unconsciously dividing the world into groups. Due

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About the author

Will Storr Image

Will Storr is an award-winning novelist and long-form journalist. He has reported from refugee camps in Africa, war-torn rural Colombia, and remote Aboriginal communities in Australia. He is a contributing editor at Esquire, and his work has appeared in The...

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Chapter List
  • Lesson 1. Perfection and Suicide
  • Lesson 2. The Story of Self
  • Lesson 3. The Culture of Perfection
  • Lesson 4. Acting “Perfect”
  • Lesson 5. The Revolution of Self-Help
  • Lesson 6. The Dangers of Self-Esteem
  • Lesson 7. The Age of the “Selfie”
  • Lesson 8. The Myth of Perfection
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In the summary of Selfie book, there are 8 key lessons. These lessons include:

  1. Lesson 1. Perfection and Suicide
  2. Lesson 2. The Story of Self
  3. Lesson 3. The Culture of Perfection
  4. Lesson 4. Acting “Perfect”
  5. Lesson 5. The Revolution of Self-Help
  6. Lesson 6. The Dangers of Self-Esteem
  7. Lesson 7. The Age of the “Selfie”
  8. Lesson 8. The Myth of Perfection

Selfie by Will Storr was published in 2017.

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