If 2014 was the year of the selfie, 2015 could be known as the year of the extreme selfie. These increasingly popular pictures flooding social media channels have taken a surprising and unfortunate turn in the last year. As people attempt to be the star of the next viral selfie, they are putting themselves in dangerous situations, many of them turning fatal.
When something as seemingly harmless as a selfie has the potential to take away our loved ones, it’s vital that we are ever mindful of our surroundings and educate our loved ones about the potential risks involved.
Rise of the Selfie
These days nearly everyone is walking around with a camera in their pocket thanks to their cellphone. Cellphone photography has surged in recent years as cameras become more and more advanced, with people using them to capture family photos, document their travels and everything in between. When cellphone manufacturers began developing front-facing cameras, the focus turned not on one’s surroundings, but on one’s self.
Mobile apps such as Instagram and Snapchat took selfies to a whole new level, garnering massive amounts of views and comments on users’ self-portraits and allowing them to edit/manipulate them to reflect the most flattering version of themselves. By the end of 2012, “Time” magazine named “selfie” one of the top 10 buzzwords of that year. Just two years later, Twitter declared 2014 as the year of the selfie.
You might remember seeing news articles earlier this year claiming that the selfie was more dangerous than sharks. As hard as it is to believe, the numbers don’t lie. Through September, statistics showed that more people had died while attempting to snap a selfie than from a shark attack.
So what changed that made selfies so dangerous all of a sudden? The danger lies not in the actual picture, but in the environment the picture is taken in. For example, a teenager driving at a high rate of speed decided to take a selfie in her car. Moments later she crashed, rolling her car onto its top in a ditch. Although she survived her injuries, many others who attempted selfies in risky situations weren’t so lucky.
A Russian teenager recently died while attempting to take a selfie of himself while hanging on a rope from a rooftop. He had taken dozens of photos just like it, posing on top of rooftops all over the country. But on his last attempt at Instagram stardom, the rope snapped, causing the teen to fall nine stories to his death.
Stories of people posing with guns, near the edges of cliffs and even while participating in the running of the bulls in Spain have all shown the danger of distracting yourself from your surroundings to snap a quick selfie.
All of these deaths were preventable, which makes them all the more tragic. Something as unimportant and silly as a selfie shouldn’t be the reason you no longer have your child or friend in your life. Talk to your loved ones about how to be safe when engaging in this popular activity. Stress that no picture is worth putting oneself in a dangerous situation and that selfies should always be taken at a safe distance from ledges and motor vehicles.