What do your selfies say about you?

For a generation that is overwhelmingly narcissistic, we are pretty ignorant to what we’re really saying with our “selfies.” Worse yet, we’re not even paying much attention to how selfies are damaging our relationships.

No really, they are.

“This is because people, other than very close friends and relatives, don’t seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves,” says Dr. David Houghton.

The truth is that selfies are endemic of something you’ve probably already noticed with people under 30: narcissism. We are obsessed with ourselves to the point of repeatedly posting self-taken images in an attempt to impress anyone who will listen.

Why does this happen?

One of the biggest reasons is because of how internet has shaped communication. We now have the ability to showcase anyone we think is exceptional. As a result, we are pressured into constantly promoting ourselves in order to get ahead. We have to become a spectacle.

Social media is fun. It’s useful. I Instagram myself a bunch, and I love making videos on Vine. Does this make me narcissistic? If you ask my friends, yes. People tell me all the time that I am too preoccupied with myself simply based on what I choose to post online.

A close friend clarified this for me once. She said that in real life, I am one of the most caring friends she has, and I exhibit authentic love towards people. But online? I come off as extremely self-obsessed.

The truth is that few of us are vain to the point where we can’t connect with others. You may find yourself genuinely motivating others and being interested in affairs that have nothing to do with you. Other times, we subtract from these real relationships in order to cultivate an image of ourselves we’ve built online.

And it’s making us miserable.

The first step is self-awareness. Take a look at what you’re doing online and ask yourself: Why am I posting this? How will other people besides my close friends interpret this?

Selfies aren’t always a bad thing, especially when we’re just trying to take a picture of a specific moment, perhaps with a friend. The danger is in what the intent really is behind that picture.

If you need to, consider making your social media life more private. One thing I learned when studying communications is that conversation-based promotion is far more effective than outright selling something. Online, we are selling ourselves directly through our edited statuses and photos. Unfiltered conversation, say through Twitter, is where our true selves come out, and that’s a good thing.

I don’t know what the future holds for my generation. I worry that the problems we face will make us unsuitable leaders overall. But I am optimistic about the potential we have as innovators in technology. Hopefully, that will mature into something worth taking a picture of.