That was a very deep personal reflection.
However, I do think you are confusing vanity with jealousy, selfishness and also self-consciousness.
Vanity is when someone glances in the mirror because they admire themselves, and actually find themselves appealing to look at. There are two causes of this, genuine egotistical personality, and the more likely insecurity personality trying to reassure ones-self.
I very much doubt you are the kind of person who looks at photos of yourself because you actually like the way you look. I think what the actual case is, is that you are self-conscious (which is perfectly normal) and want to make sure that you are acceptable.
You have to remember, it is human nature to be normal, to fit in with everyone. If it is common practice to do something, everyone does it to be the same. This is why isolated cultures have some aspects of their life that others find strange or weird.
This is also why bullying occurs, it is human instinct to be suspicious of someone who is slightly different to everyone else, it is a survive mechanism brought about through evolution, so as not to put trust in people who should not be trusted.
The fact that you want to look at your picture to see if it is bad or not is normal, no one wants to see a bad picture of themselves, even if the picture if a bad picture of everyone else.
The reality is that we are our own harshest judge. Some people more than others. The fact that you play football a lot shows that you are very likely very tough on yourself. You don't train on your own and work out 100% because you enjoy it, a large reason is because you want to better yourself. It is that personality trait of self scrutiny that leads people to greatest, because no one would ever get anywhere in life if they didn't want to better themselves. However, when taken to the extreme it can be counter productive.
A classic example is how many people believe themselves to be ugly. However, when asked if one of their friends looked exactly the same as them, they wouldn't actually believe their friend was ugly. This is when self-criticism is taken to the extreme, and a degree of paranoia enters the equation. People begin to look for faults in themselves to criticise, which is extremely demoralising, and is what leads people to have eating disorders or complexes about certain things.
So in reality, I don't believe everyone is vain. I do believe however that the majority of people are not very nice, in one aspect or the other. It is very easy to lose hope in mankind upon reflections of society, and the things some people think/believe/do.
Collin I do agree with your point about 9/11 to an extent. As I said above, many people in society are too selfish and too wrapped up in their own lives to care about anyone else. However, at the same time it is far easier to remember an act of evil terrorism than an act of natural disaster for a start. The reasons are:
1. US is still at war with terrorism, it is regularly in the news and talked about.
2. Many people lost family members in 9/11, and for them, every day they are reminded about it, where as far less people in US lost family in the Japanese Tsunami.
3. There is someone to blame for 9/11. This incites anger, one of the most strongest and uncontrollable emotions.
On the other hand, I live in the UK. None of my family were in the US died or were affected by 9/11. It's rarely referred to in the news. However the UK has a large Muslim community. And unfortunately, even people who are not racist cannot help but associate and remember the tragedies of 9/11 and the London bombings whenever they see the Muslim community. It is a very sad world we live in when all of the good in society is shadowed by despicable acts of evil and this so called 'JIHAD'.