The first time I ever saw selfie sticks was in 2015 on the Las Vegas Strip. They were everywhere. All the younger tourists had them and it took me a minute to figure out what they were – smartphone wands enabling the user to take self-portraits by holding the camera farther away than arm’s length.
I have to admit it’s a clever invention. Yet, it’s also a harmful one. I’m all for ingenuity, but it didn’t take long for me to see selfie sticks are one of those technological advances we might be better off avoiding like the plague.
Selfie Sticks Rob Us of Community
I know they come in handy if you and a friend hike up a mountain and want to snap a photo together at the summit. But let’s be honest. Few selfie sticks end up in that scenario.
Instead, most are being used in locations crowded with people. And in the old days, it was these very people – these strangers – we’d turn to, politely asking if they wouldn’t mind taking our picture.
With the advent of selfie sticks we no longer need to impose on anyone. We needn’t worry about our smartphone being stolen, either. Yet, what about our community being stolen?
Where before we found ourselves reaching across age and gender and culture gaps to make a connection with a fellow human being, now we needn’t bother. If we have a selfie stick we can travel the world and look at everything, but see no one.
Selfie Sticks Fuel Our Conceit
There is a reason selfie sticks have been dubbed narcissticks. It’s bad enough we take countless photos of ourselves in the privacy of our own homes (usually in front of the bathroom mirror, with the oh-so-picturesque toilet in the background). Now we can more easily fuel our conceit in public, too. Instead of looking out into the world and finding meaningful ways to contribute that uplift humanity, we can spend even more time looking back at ourselves.
Here’s me at the Grand Canyon. Here’s me at Mount Rushmore. Here’s me in front of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle. Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! The ego already wants to make everything about me, but everything is NOT about me.
When we make ourselves the center of the universe, it doesn’t spin the way it was meant to spin. Perhaps that is why so many people suffer from anxiety and depression. Something feels wrong because it is wrong.
Selfie sticks might have a place and purpose, but I don’t think I’m alone in my aversion. In fact, they’ve been banned at many concerts, theme parks and sporting events for safety reasons. I see that as a good sign and one I hope leads to them going quickly out of style. In the meantime, it might be wise to affix a caution label:
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Selfie sticks may cause cancer of character and community. Use with caution.
If you are planning a trip to Vegas, you may want to read The Search for Basic Human Rights. It’s my travel guide/exposé on the Strip’s secret plot against tourists. Don’t leave home without it!