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Why Selfie Sticks Will Ruin Your Vacation & Your Life

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There are occasions where a selfie stick would allow for a photo that cannot ever be taken again. I can vouch for that: I went to the city of Palmyra some time around the turn of the millennium and I was the only person there. Thus I have no picture of myself in front of the Temple of Baalshamin, and now the Temple of Baalshamin is no more.

What remains of the historic Temple of Bel, dating back to 32AD. © Joseph Eid / AFP

What remains of the historic Temple of Bel, dating back to 32AD. © Joseph Eid / AFP

This is quite a disaster – the destruction of Palmyra, that is, not the fact that I have a total of six photos from the trip, because that was all that was left on my roll of film, and the local tourist shop didn’t have any, as it was the middle of winter. Palmyra itself is still imprinted in the part of my brain where I keep travel photos. Or, should I say, where I keep travel photos from before I went digital. Now I keep photos on my phone. I have yet to succumb to the selfie stick, though.  Not because my inherent luddism, although I suspect that has something to do with it. I have other reasons:

1.It’s another thing to carry. Sure, it’s not heavy, but it adds weight and it’s a single purpose item. I already carry around way more than I want to, so a stick that doesn’t double as a telescope, walking cane or a fishing rod (and won’t support a tent!) seems a bit of a waste. Besides, it can be the difference between carry-on and hold luggage and that difference costs money.

2. Not everything in our lives is photo-worthy, and you will feel worse about this when you discover that nobody – not even yourself – cares about the picture of that cute foam design on your cappuccino, even if it is truly artistic, courtesy of the stick. Likewise, a panoramic selfie in a public lavatory is probably not necessary – unless you’re taking a piss in one of Duchamps’ original urinals, in which case …

no selfie sticks

3. … don’t. Many museums have banned the damned stick anyways, and for a good reason: they’re annoying. The crowds in front of famous paintings are bad enough, having to wait your turn because someone thinks she deserve an ideal angle for the selfie in front of Van Gogh’s selfie (yes, it’s the perfect caption) and waves the magic wand until it pokes someone’s eye out takes it to another level. If you insist on using them, you might get banned and miss out on art.

4. You might also miss out on other events – concerts and sporting events for example, because they’re not too keen on wandering zombies angling for that one perfect shot. (Fellow spectators might also have a problem with a stranger’s rod dangling in front of their face, particularly when you consider the price of the tickets at most events.) You might also miss opportunities to ask interesting strangers to take your photo and potentially meet cool new people.

5. They might literally kill you. There’s a Wikipedia entry for that. Even when they don’t get themselves killed, you’d think people have more sense than to use a stick to take a selfie at the edge of a cliff, with a grizzly bear or in the middle of running with bulls at the San Fermin festival. Guess what? You’d think wrong.

selfie accident

Yes, a selfie stick might help you take that perfect picture – but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Nine times out of ten your photo won’t be good enough; you will end up sad, obsessed, your street cred destroyed and your precious moments wasted.

It’s not dubbed Narcisstick for nothing.  (Spoiler: he drowned. You have been warned.)

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Barbara S

Barbara S