By definition a selfie is a photograph taken with a smartphone or some other digital camera by a person who is also in the photograph, especially for posting on a social media website. You probably wouldn't have needed the definition considering how many people take those photos.

By definition a selfie is a photograph taken with a smartphone or some other digital camera by a person who is also in the photograph, especially for posting on a social media website. You probably wouldn’t have needed the definition considering how many people take those photos.

One of the best places to find selfies is Facebook. Of the 181 people who claim me as a friend (I know that’s a mere pittance compared to the friend total many folks have), 134 use a photo which includes himself or herself as their profile image.

As for those that don’t many resort to photos that show kids or grandkids. Some post images of deceased parents or pets. Still others use it as a platform to show their support for a cause.

My wife, Nancy, and I are likely in the minority of couples with Facebook accounts, who neither use a photo of our self as our profile image. Nancy, an avid quilter, uses one of her colorful creations. As for me, I have a picture of a toad.

Why a toad?

Some might assume there’s a deep, subliminal message behind my choice. But truth be told I just like the image, which I took while on an “escape walk” at a family reunion a few years back. The multi-shaded creature patiently posed while I got down on the ground to capture his closeup, which turned out razor sharp. Based on the way this fellow sat up tall, if a toad can feel pride in who (what?) he is, this guy epitomized it.

So while some people choose not to use a self-portrait as their Facebook profile, there is certainly nothing wrong with posting images of one’s self on Facebook or on other social media sites. In fact I came across a study which suggested that it’s actually healthy.

According to a study conducted at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), regularly snapping selfies and sharing those photos with your friends can help make you a happier person. The results of the study were published in the “Psychology of Well-Being.”

“The good news is that despite their susceptibility to strain, most college students constantly carry around a mobile device, which can be used for stress relief,” said the study’s lead author Yu Chen, a postdoctoral scholar in UCI’s Department of Informatics.

Of course it wouldn’t be the internet if one couldn’t find a differing opinion. Such is the case when it came to selfies.

According to researchers at Penn State University, frequent viewing of selfies through social network sites like Facebook is linked to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction. The study, published online in the “Journal of Telematics and Informatics,” revealed that the more often people viewed their own and others’ selfies, the lower their level of self-esteem and life satisfaction.

“People usually post selfies when they’re happy or having fun,” said Ruoxu Wang, a graduate student in mass communications. “This makes it easy for someone else to look at these pictures and think his or her life is not as great as theirs.”

There is another potential downfall to taking a selfie – physical risk.

Apparently people are literally putting their lives in danger in order to capture the ultimate selfie. Consider the woman who last week fell from a catwalk beneath a bridge while trying to take the ultimate selfie.

The woman is lucky to be alive after tumbling 60 feet onto a trail below the Forest Hill Bridge in Sacramento, Calif., which at 730 feet tall makes it that state’s tallest bridge.

Although heavily posted with signs warning trespassers to stay away, the bridge has become popular with those seeking the ultimate selfie for their social media pages.

“You can lose your life and none of that is worth a selfie!” wrote the Placer County Sheriff’s Department on Facebook.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.