The Selfie Stick - The Darkest Point in Humanity

The selfie stick at work. Steups.
Photo credit: The Telegraph
Let's just get right down to it. The selfie stick. It is possibly one of the most polarising contraptions out there right now. You either love it, or hate it. So what is it?

I love Urban Dictionary!
Selfie Stick 
- An extendable stick you can put your phone on so you can take a selfie from farther away.
- An elongated rod, usually made out of plastic or steel, with a camera on one end and a dense moron on the other
Others have also referred to the selfie stick as the Staff of Narcissus and my favourite was British journalist, Grace Dent who described them as "one of the darkest points in humanity".

Yet to some, the selfie stick is a moment in history - a greater discovery than the coffee bean, electricity or air-conditioning. Yep. Being able to enhance one's selfies for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is the reason they sleep better at night.

I did some more research into this phenomenon and there are three basic kinds of Narcissistick...sorry...selfie stick.

  • The sticks that are Bluetooth-enabled, which pair with your iPhone or Android phone and let you press a button on the handle to take a photo. 
  • The sticks that plug into your smartphone’s headphone jack, which also let you take a photo with the press of a button on the handle. 
  • Sticks that come without any remote triggering function; some of these are sold as a package deal with a keychain-sized Bluetooth remote. (source: QZ.com)


Now I love me a selfie and if one morning I think I look extra cute, better believe I am taking a freakin' selfie. Not on my soapbox when it comes to selfies - selfies can be great. But, what is this selfie stick business? I have a problem with this - people walking around with a stick to take selfies? C'mon man.

Now from a travelling perspective, and as a solo traveller, I completely understand how challenging it can be to document some of your moments on a life-changing global discovery. You stand in front of that monument you reaaaaaaally want to get a photo of - with you in it - and then do the tourist 'bait and release ' where you size up the other tourists or locals passing by and decide who looks friendly enough, or at the very least, the least surly, so you can ask them to take that photo for you.

Nowadays, with smartphones with flip cameras and so on, the vacation selfie has sometimes replaced the charity photo from fellow tourists. I have still not jumped on the vacation selfie train completely. I still like the old fashioned tourist beg because they are often much better photos, if you are a seasoned campaigner and know how to choose your volunteer photographer, and I still like having 1-minute meet and greets with strangers who may be just like me, or not. That's part of the beauty of travelling, for me.

But I will admit, I am not a lover of the selfie stick. Though I get how it could benefit me as a solo traveller in particular, I feel an overwhelming distaste for it. I am so glad many museums and other such places have seen fit to ban their use. It is already hard battling with overzealous tourists trying to take selfies in front of everything, including that painting you want to take a closer look at. Add a 3-foot stick to the mix, and a few hundred...thousand tourists to that, and it is a nightmare.

This would drive me crazy!

Not to mention, people seem to be whipping out these things any and everywhere. There has to be some risk of physical harm as people walk around with these things threatening to poke you in the eye or in the guts. Not to mention the plain old inconvenience of it.

There was the guy in Rio de Janeiro waiting to go up the Sugarloaf Mountain cable car. His gigantic selfie stick kept getting caught in the vinyl ceiling of the waiting area and then inconvenienced other passengers inside the already-cramped cable car. - TreeHugger.com

But of course it speaks to a deeper malaise -the ever pervasive need to be viewed, to be 'liked', to create this world where everything about us and around us is perfect. Where every single thing is a photo opportunity and a chance to get 100 likes on Instagram and get more likes than the photo taken before or your friend's photo. Where you end up becoming more focused on the photo's potential on your social media than on the actual moment.

I’ll never forget the woman at a spectacular northeastern beach who never took her eyes off her extended cell phone, carefully wading into the warm turquoise ocean while holding her selfie stick at the perfect angle. She posed, smiled, angled her head, posed again. Not once did she put down her stick to actually swim in the water - Treehugger.com

Co-sign!
Photo credit: The Telegraph
If this is your thing though, more power to you. I won't wade up to a woman like this and tell her don't do it. That is her business. I will possibly snicker and roll my eyes and blog about it, but it is her right to look like an idiot.

Where I do have a problem is if that selfie stick is going to challenge ME! - if it is going to block my view of my experience, be totally invasive during my moment, or just simply physically be a nuisance.

So kudos to some of my favourite places like the National Gallery and the Chateau de Versailles for banning the selfie stick to ensure everyone can enjoy the treasures which these venues offer to visitors.

Sadly I am hearing that selfie drones may soon be inflicted upon us. At that point I think I may just retreat into self-imposed exile from the world.

8 comments:

  1. I agree, this phenomena is everywhere...*sigh*..
    Those sticks all up in the air would drive me cazy too! :O

    And although I'm not one to really take photographs of myself, I will admit to secretly considering obtaining one.. for the main reason of when travelling solo... to capture that prefect picture.. and for the proof that I really was there lol

    That missed opportunity, that one time, still daunts me, because I was too shy to say hi! *covers eyes*
    [but then the lesson that I really should learn is that I SHOULD say hi... not get a device to help with the fear - sigh... see this dilemma? lol]

    Great write up tho! Not helping with the decisions, but thanks for the post! :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I said yesterday that I would never say I would never ever get a selfie stick but the possibility right now seems small. I always feel like a twat when taking selfies in public. To me this stick makes it even more pathetic. I just can't.

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  2. "Staff of Narcissus" -- I love that. I think that's what I'll call them from now on.

    When I travel I just ask fellow tourists to help with photos (and then of course return the favor). You're right, these shots tend to look *way* better than typical selfie shots. Also, it's just nice to say hello to other people and talk with them for a minute -- it humanizes the travel experience.

    I can *sort of* understand selfie sticks for solo travel, or for traveling to a place that's either remote (i.e. no other tourists around) or crowded (i.e. your tripod/camera could get stolen). But I don't think I could ever use one myself. They're just too ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just cannot picture myself walking around with one. Lol. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  3. They are terrible. When I was in Europe over the holidays, they were everywhere - many probably given as gifts - and so obtrusive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The flip side is they can double as a baton of sorts for self defence. Lol.

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  4. I think they're useful, but completely ridiculous. I bought my roommate one for her birthday last year. She loves it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Literally slapped the crap out of the Hubs who for some crazy moment thought that owning one of these was a GOOD idea!!!! Dumba$$!!!! Said with all respect as I love him very much. We own a photography studio, and NO I am not walking around with one of those, I am not going to be one of those, and neither are you honey. I have yet to really see it in action, and will probably be like you and snicker at them and it. I still get embarrassed at the whole public selfie thing, and rarely if ever do it. I ask the kids to take my picture, and then the hubs insists on the whole selfie thingy as a family. As for banning them at public places such as museums, I agree with that move 100 %!!!!! :)

    ReplyDelete

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