Waaaaay back, long ago, my friends and I would occasionally squish our faces together and take a photo. Usually after a wild night of being Bacchantes, female devotees of Bacchus. Bacchus is the Roman name for Dionysus, the Greek God of Wine. We called them smoosh shots. Now they’re called selfies. Shouldn’t they be called selfishees because they’re sooooo self-centered?
Selfies are like new aliens that have landed here to take over the world. They have. Or like a big, bad virus that multiplies ad infinitum. Everybody seems to be infected. Is there treatment?
The virus started in the 1980’s with Hiroshi Ueda, an engineer with Minolta and an avid photographer and traveler. He wanted pictures of him and his wife together. But passers-by were not to be trusted. He asked a child at the Louvre Museum in Paris to take their photo. Instead, the child ran off with the camera. And I thought my hubby was bad. When he’d see a tourist taking a group photo, he’d go stand behind the group. Now it’s called a photo bomb. So Mr. Ueda invented his extender stick. At that time, women were embarrassed to take photos of themselves (say what?) and the quality of the pictures was not good. It didn’t sell well. But it was featured in a 1995 book of “101 Un-Useless Japanese inventions”, aka chindogu. This book included stuff like funnel glasses to guide eye drops and a suitcase scooter. Amazing what people do!
So when Ueda’s patent expired, a Canadian, named Wayne Fromm, invented the selfie stick again. A “telescopic extender” was born after much-extended research with umbrellas (pun intended). From there, the entire world knocked it off. And the entire world flocked to buy it. And now we have a worldwide nuisance. It’s banned from concerts, stadiums, museums and not enough other places. I so admired the gentleman in Central Park who would sneak up on selfie stick users, destroy the stick with his bolt cutters and then run like the dickens. A modern day hero!
With regard to the term, selfie, an Australian has laid claim to inventing it. He used the word to describe a photograph taken while drunk at a 21st birthday bash. The word was named Word of the Year in 2013 by Oxford Dictionaries.
All over the world, people trying to capture that perfect selfie are seriously injured or killed including these situations:
- A wild herd of elephants crossing the road. The herd attacked.
- Falling into a geyser: boiled/burned to death.
- Climbing higher onto the parapet of a 20-story building.
- Posing with a rattlesnake: bit!
- Standing too close to speeding trains.
- Falling out of trains.
- Standing on top of a train: electrocuted by live wires.
- Plunging off cliffs trying to capture the magnificent view.
- Pointing a gun at their face.
- Group selfie at the beach: swept away by a strong wave.
- Pulling the pin on a live grenade: boom!
- Extreme selfie: hanging from a rope from a 9-story building: rope snapped.
- Gored by a bison at Yellowstone National Park.
In 2015, five different selfie takers provoked bison into attacking them. Bison are photo phobic? From a recent newspaper clipping: “Park officials are reminding visitors to give space to wildlife near trails, boardwalks, and other developed areas. Yellowstone is now asking visitors to adopt its Safe Selfie policy.”
What’s your Safe Selfie policy?