Why Selfie Sticks Are Unwelcome at More Tourist Sites This Summer

Taking More Photos = Good; Taking More Photos of Yourself = Not So Good

Rome's Colosseum: No selfies allowed

By Jonathan Spira on 14 August 2015
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Unless you are returning from an extended Martian holiday, you’d be hard pressed to be unaware of a new phenomenon, the selfie stick. A selfie stick is similar to a monopod but less sturdy (think transistor radio antenna) and it’s used to take selfies by serving as an arm extender and positioning a smartphone beyond the normal reach of one’s arm.

They seem to be everywhere at places frequented by tourists, and museums, amusement parks, and other destinations are banning them. Disney was one of the latest in late June, banning them at its theme parks on safety grounds. “Handheld extension poles have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast,” the company said in a statement at the time. Apple banned them at its World Wide Developers Conference this year, as did Comic-Con.

In England, the National Gallery and the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club in Wimbledon have them on the proscribed list, and they are not welcome at the Sydney Opera House, Versailles, or the Colosseum in Rome.

Russian authorities are cautioning people against taking dangerous selfies in public service announcements

Russian authorities are cautioning people against taking dangerous selfies

More ominously, Russia has launched a public awareness campaign to call attention to the dangers that daredevils taking selfies face. For unknown reasons, people seem to lose whatever common sense they have when the selfie siren calls to them in that country. Russian police report that at least ten people have died in 2015 taking selfies, with hundreds more injured. Earlier this year, two men in the Ural mountains took a selfie of themselves holding a hand grenade they had pulled the pin out of. The selfie was the only thing that survived the explosion. In June, a Russian woman fell off a bridge while trying to take a selfie, and train tracks are apparently popular for selfies in Russia as a “Safe Selfie” pamphlet issued by the government warns the budding photographer, “A selfie on the railway tracks is a bad idea if you value your life.”

While the narcissism evident in the proliferation of selfies has irked me for years, I never felt selfies were dangerous until I was poked and prodded by selfie sticks at several museums, something that is as enjoyable as being bumped by an errant rucksack.

While, as an avid photographer, I have to applaud the fact that more pictures are being taken today than ever, I have to recommend exercising caution when doing so and I also suggest tempering the number of selfies one takes by alternating them with photographs of the scenery, architecture, and historic relics that one is visiting.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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