• Greg Baker

Caution: Selfie Stick in Use

Caution: Selfie Stick in Use (reprinted from the Metro Spirit 7/16/15)

One of the more interesting realizations I had a parent is that you have to tell your kids everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Those little minds come home from the store full of mush.  If you don’t start shaping their behavior right from the start, you will be astonished by what actions (or inactions) are deemed appropriate.  I’m not talking about the stuff we can still hear our parents say – brush your teeth before bed, don’t stay up too late, be nice to your friends.  No, this is on a different level.  When you start with an empty head, there is no action that defies possibility.  Eventually, you find yourself uttering crazy statements like, “What do you mean you didn’t think it would hurt if you hit your sister with a bat?” and “How is the poop going to get into the potty if you don’t raise the lid?”  Parenting provides the perfect case study for the lesson “Not everything is obvious to everyone.”

Of course, kids get older, develop into teenagers and eventually take their place in society as adult citizens.  Notice that I did not use the phrase “mature adults”.   This was intentional.  You see, even after 20-or-so years of existence, a good portion of the mind mush still remains.  On the positive side, I believe it’s beneficial for young and energetic individuals to aspire to a limitless future.  Where would we be today if previous generations didn’t push beyond the conventional wisdom and do the impossible?  However, the complete disregard of common sense often yields negative consequences.  To illustrate this point, one need only look as far as the selfie stick.

The very first selfie stick appeared in the early 1980s.  An engineer at Minolta, Hiroshi Ueda, developed the concept after vacationing in Europe.  While in the Louvre, he asked a passer-by, a child, to take a picture of him and his wife.  The child ran off with the camera.  Almost accidently, Ueda discovered that people need the ability to take a picture of themselves whenever and wherever they desire.  Minolta, to their credit, actually manufactured the device Ueda developed.  The “Extender Stick” was not a commercial success.  Interestingly, women of the 1980s were embarrassed by the idea of taking pictures of themselves.

The modern selfie stick can be traced to Canadian inventor Wayne Fromm.  In the early 2000s, after various struggles with getting strangers to take his picture while traveling, Fromm developed the Quik Pod.  He has actively promoted it over the last 10 years.  Needless to say, the Quik Pod, along with the many 100’s of different knock offs, continues to sell well.

And why wouldn’t it?  Social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat urge users to share the current moment.  Even if your besties can be with you, that’s no excuse for them to not know what top or shoes you’re wearing.  The selfie stick adds to the experience by allowing the viewer to step back and see the full context – everything from “Here I am!  Aren’t you jealous?” to “Can’t you see that this really sucks?”  Social media broadcasts the play-by-play of our lives, and the selfie stick simply provides a better view of the action.

However, the selfie stick is subject to misuse, and many would suggest that the selfie stick is a nuisance and a danger.  While most adults would agree that one shouldn’t use a selfie stick in a moving roller coaster, a non-trivial segment of our society doesn’t arrive at that conclusion.  Likewise, selfies while driving also seem to pass through the common sense filter of some.  Even in “safe” environments such as museums and parks, the selfie stick user doesn’t always act with respect to others, often blocking views or possibly delivering an inadvertent thwack.  Sad to say, but the misuse has created a backlash.

The backlash against selfie sticks is gaining momentum.  Selfie sticks have been banned at Lollapalooza, the Forbidden City, the Smithsonian and a host of other venues. Walt Disney World started banning selfie sticks due to safety concerns.  The city of Pamplona banned selfies during the running of the bulls.  South Korea now regulates selfie sticks as a communication device.  The war against the selfie stick is well underway.

Is this backlash undeserved?  Probably not.  A quick search of the Internet provides many examples of unsafe, inadvisable and fatal selfies.  As a matter of fact, the selfie problem has become so significant, Russia created a public service announcement providing instruction on the appropriate use of selfie sticks.  While I doubt that any readers of the Spirit (and certainly not any readers of this column) would require this instruction, for the benefit of any mush minds that happen to be reading, I’ve provided the translation below.

  1. Selfies on train tracks are a bad idea.

  2. Selfies on the water – It’s hard to keep your balance.

  3. Selfies with animals – They are not always cute.

  4. Selfies with guns kill.

  5. Selfies on the roof – You can fall far.

  6. Selfies on train cars – You can get electrocuted.

  7. Selfies near high voltage?  Don’t bother.

BTW – It’s great to be back from vacation.  Check out this selfie!  Stay safe as you enjoy the rest of your summer!

Until next time@gregory_a_baker

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