“How do I look?”
— Last words of a selfie-taker!
I guess when it comes down to it, I am really kind of a fan of the thinning of the herd. Don’t get me wrong, it’s sad when anybody dies, but some people do things so stupid it’s almost a foregone conclusion.
I was just reading an article this past week about people who died from taking selfies. I know since this article was written, the number certainly has grown by one or a dozen. But the article I read stated that since 2011 — when apparently enough people died taking a picture of themselves that we needed to keep a record of them — at least 259 people have died taking pictures of themselves.
Since long before I was born there have been cameras. I never heard about anybody dying from taking their own picture when I was a kid. In fact, we didn’t think about taking pictures of ourselves because we all had friends to take them.
I have tried to do the research to find out who was the first person to die taking a selfie, but it’s one of those milestones that seems to have been lost forever to history. The earliest known factoid that I found doing my research was that in 2011, there were only 3 reported selfie deaths. From that genesis, the number seems to be growing exponentially from year to year.
Whoever that photogenic pioneer was, he/she was certainly a trailblazer for many more to follow. It’s really not even a headline news story any longer. If you browse CNN or Fox News sites, a person dying from taking a selfie will be buried somewhere just ahead of the Entertainment News. More people die while selfie-taking each year than are killed by sharks; of course, people taking a selfie with sharks is nearly always fatal.
I do know that in all my years with the old Kodak cameras, never once did I hear about people falling to their deaths trying to capture a breathtaking Instamatic picture. Some people reading this have no idea that we used to take a photo and you had to shake the negative in daylight for 30 seconds and a photograph would magically appear. Perhaps, it was the time delay that kept people from risking their life for an instant memory.
I think selfie deaths are a modern-day equivalent to the old one-liner about the famous last words of a redneck, “Hold my beer!”
In the proud to be an American category, I guess you would be happy to know that America is in the Top Four leading selfie death leaders along with India, Russia and Pakistan. Selfie deaths seem to know no particular religion or ethnic cultural background. The desire to die for the perfect snapshot is a worldwide phenomenon.
It should come as no surprise that the most popular form of selfie deaths by the herd is falling from high places. I guess that’s almost a no-brainer and when it comes to dying from taking a picture, saying no-brainer is like repeating oneself.
I can understand the logic of one falling from a high elevation. In case you wonder about the second-leading cause — and I am not making this one up — drowning. How do you drown trying to take a picture of yourself? I guess waterproof cell phones were just too big a temptation.
The next popular causes of death by selfie are in order: trains, gunshot, grenade, plane crash and animal. I know even I am surprised by people taking exploding grenade selfies. And I would love to know the facts on how taking a selfie resulted in a plane crash.
Apparently from reading one of the major innovations that have contributed exponentially to fatal selfie photos is a simple invention called the selfie stick. When the camera was within arm’s length, people seem to survive the risky photo attempts, but allow them to take just two or three steps backward from the camera lens, and “Geronimo!”
OK, I have stated the obvious growing problem of people dying taking dangerous and/or stupid photos; now, the solution. Many places now are posting a sign that says “No Selfie Zone!” So as human beings, we have become so stupid that a sign has to be posted on the edge of a cliff advising you it is dangerous to walk backward off the edge while taking a picture.
Call me “Negative Nelly,” but I really don’t see the signs as doing anything to stop the problem. The problem is not a lack of signage but a lack of good, old-fashioned common sense. To quote a catch phrase from Redneck Comedy comedian Bill Engvall, “Here’s your sign!”
— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer that can be reached at email@example.com.