Science & Tech, World

The Killer Selfie: How an Internet Fad Went Too Far

The perfect selfie is elusive for most of us. We spend hours looking for just the right lighting, poses (to duckface or not to duckface?), and filters that will allow us to capture the best versions of ourselves. There’s even a whole niche market of selfie accessories, including the infamous selfie stick, that promises to help us take the perfect pic. It’s pretty evident that the selfie market has proved that it’s here to stay, which begs just one question: how far is too far for the perfect selfie?

Me, Myselfie, and I

We’ve all heard of selfies gone wrong, but tourists at a beach in Mojacar in Spain quickly demonstrated how easily a harmless photo opportunity could go awry. The amateur photographers managed to suffocate a baby dolphin in just fifteen minutes before animal rescuers had the chance respond. The young animal, which had become separated from its mother in the warm, shallow waters, was passed from tourist to tourist and eventually suffocated after its spiracle was covered by people hoping for the perfect way to capture their vacation. Bystanders were horrified when they realized what had happened.

Sadly, selfie deaths, animal or not, are not unusual. In 2015, more people died from selfie attempts than from shark attacks. From getting hit by lightning to getting gored by wild animals, selfie-related deaths have become so increasingly common that several governments created “selfie safety” campaigns, urging their citizenry to practice basic safety while snapping their pictures. After nearly a dozen deaths just last year alone, Russia sent out leaflets with the slogan “A cool selfie could cost you your life”. The campaign, although bizarre, shows just how far people will go for a like or a favorite. The stories of selfies gone wrong are quickly sensationalized, and extreme posthumous pictures easily go viral, bizarrely showcasing the last moments of young people on the hunt for a killer shot.

So What Now?

If selfies are so dangerous, why do we keep taking them? In an era of instant gratification, selfies seem like the perfect way to get attention. We all love posting a great new photo of ourselves, and watching the likes tick up and the comments roll in. Selfies let us show off the best version of ourselves to the world — a static one that captures the perfect expression, mood, and moment. In and of themselves, selfies aren’t the problem. After all, it can feel good to have people notice that we’re feeling ourselves that day. But when it becomes a defining part of who we are, dictating our self-worth, it’s time to put down the selfie stick.

I think it’s time for us to take a step back as a society and close down the front facing camera and find something new to fill our social media feeds. Though a blooming flower or glowing night cityscape may not give us the kind of instant affirmation our self-obsessed society craves, it will show the world that there is so much more to our lives than just our faces. It’s ingrained in us that the best we have to offer is our looks – but maybe it’s time that we show those who follow our Instagram accounts or scroll through our Facebook news feeds that our lives are so much more than that.

There’s no reason that anyone or anything should be dying for a photo. Instead, I think that we should strive to put something much more real and genuine on our feeds, to allow others to see how we’re truly living. After all, isn’t that the whole point of social media?

Over the past ten years, we have seen the rise of the selfie from its humble beginnings as a harmless self-portrait to a full-blown internet sensation complete with its scandals. We’ve seen it taken to the extreme and hopefully, this is a wakeup call that our obsession with our faces has gone way too far. While we sometimes wish that the fad would just disappear like a Snapchat, it seems that they’re here to stay. But that doesn’t mean our selfies have to define us.

About Hilary Droke

Hilary is a University of Florida Student who loves hiking, the National Park system, and a good cup of coffee. When she’s not studying or writing, you can find her planning her next big adventure.

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