Let me take a selfie

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THE selfie-stick.
Listed in TIME Magazine’s top 25 best inventions last year. It’s an answer to prayer for those stubby-armed selfie lovers and perfect photo hunters, but although it was one of the most essential Christmas presents 2014, unfortunately the times have quickly changed for the pop culture accessory.

Available in US shops since 2011, it really came to its peak of popularity in 2014 where it was a must-have for, well, everyone. The extendable monopod peaked in sales, says Amazon UK, who saw a rise of 301% between September and November last year.

So we know they are the ultimate accessory for the self-confessed selfie takers. But they have fallen on hard times now they’ve been about for a while, and are collecting various nicknames which are suggesting the selfie, and now selfie stick, are nothing but tools of arrogance and big-headedness.

Australian Soundwave festival has prohibited the sticks from its gates, labelling them as ‘wands of narcissism’. Ouch. Coachella has also added, under disallowed items at the festival, selfie sticks/narcissists. Latest to just say no was festival Splendour in the Grass, who although claims the ban is for safety concerns (fair enough), it begins by saying ‘Splendour says no to narcissism.’ 

So its now apparent that the selfie stick, and ultimately selfies, are synonymous with narcissism [which for those who didn’t know, is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes – Wiki, 2015]. But selfies have been around for a while. And, apart from Kim K’s excessive snapping (culminating in book, Selfish), it’s never been hated on quite as much as it is now.

The Guardian writer Bridie Jabour wrote a great article recently on whether the selfie haters are perhaps basing their dislike of the almost arrogant trend on the confidence the selfie snappers have as opposed to the actual thing itself.
In a society where crippling body and beauty expectations are at an all time high, surely witnessing young people (especially young women who, evidence suggests, are the biggest target of toxic body shaming trends and the people who suffer most from eating disorders) enjoying and feeling confident to photograph themselves is a great thing?

Jabour believes ‘it’s worth celebrating people who don’t hate their face’. And I agree. Granted, when done excessively and perhaps a little too much for some to handle, it may be seen as self-obsessed.

Katherine Martinko for treehugger.com says:

“The brandishers of selfie sticks cannot truly see what’s going on around them. Recording their own presence at a given moment is a greater priority than making eye contact with locals, staring into the distance, contemplating the history or beauty or cultural differences before their own eyes.”

Howard Jacobson for BBC A Point Of View has even stronger opinions on them:

“A selfie stick, as its name implies, is an agent of self-absorption, a lightning rod of narcissism, linking the self that’s being photographed and the device that’s doing the photographing, to the exclusion of all else.”

PERSONALLY, they do not offend me. I do like to see people feeling confident enough to photograph themselves without the hatred of their own reflection which people are so familiar with nowadays. They can be dangerous and block views when at museums or concerts, so I believe banning them from these places is justified. But how on earth can an instrument to perfect the selfie is under so much scrutiny, when the selfie isn’t. Well, not as much anyway. Perhaps they are simply ideal for those who adore a great picture or have sadly short arms.

I think people are thinking too much into this. And if ‘narcissism’ is something you want to ban, perhaps mobiles and cameras ought to be banned too?…



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