Yesterday, a friend called to tell me about his awesome trip to Plitvicka Lakes National Park, Croatia. The conversation soon turned to his annoyance with crowds blocking the hiking trails by stopping to take selfies at the most scenic spots. Having been almost impaled by an extremely sharp selfie-stick last summer in Venice, I sympathized. I am convinced that the taking of selfies is bad for humanity. Here’s a list of reasons why:
- It is annoying to your fellow bipeds. We don’t just take selfies in front of spectacular scenes or monuments. We do it everywhere. In the process, we piss off countless others simply trying to walk to their destination.
- It feeds into a fear of the natural process of aging. Andy Warhol said, “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” Perhaps this is what motivates millions of us to document every single moment in our otherwise ordinary lives. Because some day, we will get old and die and it’s important that our great grand children know about that time we stood in front of the bus stop waiting for the 57 to Raynes Park looking hot.
- It is narcissistic. I am reminded of the scene in Madonna’s documentary Truth or Dare where then-boyfriend Warren Beatty questions her exhibitionist decision to have her throat exam filmed. “Why would you say something if it’s not on camera?” “What point is there existing?” The answer for many is that there isn’t.
- It’s potentially dangerous. Earlier this year, there were stories about people ignoring safety signs and ultimately dying trying to take selfies in Yellowstone National Park and my friend said the same had, sadly, happened in Croatia. Let’s think about that. They died trying to capture a moment rather than being aware of their surroundings, enjoying that moment for real and surviving to tell others about their amazing experiences.
- It brings out the worst in people. The worst abuse of the technology I have come across was late at night when I came across a group of drunken 20-somethings who had awoken a homeless man and forced him to take selfies with them. It was almost as if the camera phone gave these people protection from real-world consequences. He pleaded with them to leave him in peace. It was the single most disgusting thing I have seen since moving to London and that includes watching a rat consume fresh human vomit on a train platform.
My solution is to avoid taking selfies unless only I find myself in the very rare situation that I am surrounded entirely by people who are missing all manual digits.
What will yours be?