Leadership and “Selfies”-Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year

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State Exec Council candid NLC 2013The new word has been added to the dictionary this year- It is “Selfie”.

While travelling with the State Officers, they were always taking their own pictures with their smart phones. My phone was not so “smart” but I laughed and tried to mimic them by taking a photo of myself – for no immediate reason- and did nothing with it. Recently chosen as Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year, it is probably due to technology advances, and the sheer unadulterated vanity of social media.  “Selfie” has increased over the past year with many self-taken photos of pouting faces.Marissa's family photo at leadership camp 2013

So what’s it all about- The trend to take a selfie?

A definition: selfies: pictures taken of oneself while holding the camera at arm’s length.

It seems like it could be one of several things.

1)       Humans need to be significant. According to Maslow’s theory, we have basic human needs.

According to humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow, our actions are motivated in order achieve certain needs. Maslow first introduced his concept of a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and his subsequent book Motivation and Personality. This hierarchy suggests that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other, more advanced needs.  As people progress up the pyramid, needs become increasingly psychological and social. Soon, the need for love, friendship, and intimacy become important. Further up the pyramid, the need for personal esteem and feelings of accomplishment take priority. Maslow emphasized the importance of self-actualization, which is a process of growing and developing as a person in order to achieve individual potential.

2)      The need to be connected.  Selfies fulfill a social need or an esteem need. This would be about mid-level on Maslow’s hierarchy.SAM_0153

3)      A generational tendency for youth who have grown up with technology (technology natives) to use technology daily, hourly or minute by minute. It is difficult for them to be “unplugged”. There is an increasing expectancy for Immediacy and “real time” communications.

FCCLA youth leaders have learned a lot about safe and appropriate uses of social media. We have relied on youth on our Board of Directors to update our organizational social media policy. We include expectations for using social media in the leadership training. State Officers have attended National FCCLA training for leadership which have included discussions and uses of social media. It is somewhat a “trifecta” for possible issues as youth are 1) impulsive, 2) hooked on technology and 3) their brains are not fully developed until age 25. So decisions are sometimes not well thought through. On the positive side, technology and “selfies” can be used to model the way, inspire a shared vision or encourage the heart as youth encourage and relate to each other. (Exemplary Leadership Traits of the Student Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner). It is good to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  Social media is one way to share the messages that FCCLA is pretty cool way to learn, to grow in character and leadership.

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