Thailand’s future risked by scourge of selfies, warns Health Ministry

By Coconuts Bangkok February 10, 2014 / 12:30 ICT

There’s an epidemic eating away at the confidence of Thais and possibly poisoning the nation’s very future. That’s right, we’re talking about the scourge of the selfie.

None other than the Ministry of Health is leading the charge against this epic national crisis, taking its crusade straight to the public with a warning that taking too many selfies can damage one’s confidence and even risk the country’s future.

“Taking selfies should only be done occasionally, as looking forward to likes and comments on your photos is a sign of a lack in self-confidence,” warned Dr. Panpimol Wipulakorn, a ministry deputy director and psychiatrist of mental health on a government website. An accompanying photo of what seems to be Panpimol appears to have been safely taken by another party. 

Thais are particularly vulnerable to the allure of social media, according the numbers. While growth on Facebook and other platforms flattens elsewhere in the world, Thailand continues to be a growth market.

Thailand has over 19 million daily Facebook users and 800,000 daily Instagram users, according to the Electronic Transactions Development Agency.

What do they use the social network platform for, you might ask? Posting and sharing photos is the most popular activity, according to recent data by GlobalWebResearch. We can only imagine how many of those images involve high-risk behaviour such as turning the camera around.

However just like cocaine-loving laboratory rats, selfie addicts will never be satisfied or validated.

"Sharing a selfie is a way to seek acceptance from society, and likes are the rewards,” Panpimol said. “It’s human nature to repeat our behavior when we get rewards. The problem is when you don’t get as many responses from the public as you have expected, it affects your thoughts and decreases your confidence."

Panpimol’s warning didn’t include any peer-reviewed research, longitudinal studies or other substiantiated data to support her claims.

However she went on to suggest selfies might cause lasting damage to Thailand’s development:

"Self-confidence is necessary, and it pushes you to become leaders, confront the truth, and have a nice personality,” she said. “If lacking confidence, you won't have a happy life and could risk developing mental disorders such as fear, stress, jealousy or depression."

That could risk a generation.

"If Thai teens lack confidence, they will not be able to become creators and continue to be followers,” she added. “This can affect the future of our country and decrease the numbers of the potential leaders. Families will lack leaders and creating new technology will be more difficult."

Kicking the habit will require developing some new, unfamiliar ones, she said, such as paying attention to things in the real world and living in what most of us generally agree is the “real” reality rather than the virtual one. Activities with family and friends such as exercise can also help curb the urge to take a selfie.

Source: Thai Government

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