Dear Selfie Taker: Please Don’t Break the Artwork or Kill Yourself

Guggenheim Museum in New York City

By Jeremy Del Nero on 19 July 2017
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The recent news that a woman in Los Angeles had knocked over 11 crowned pedestals, part of an art installation by Simon Birch, while taking a selfie came as little surprise to those who experience a type of Schadenfreude around selfies, selfie sticks, and the problems they occasion.

As Jonathan Spira noted in these pages two years ago, selfies, and by extension selfie sticks, can be dangerous to both the photographer and those in the vicinity. Sometimes even the art will suffer.

Recent examples include the partial shattering of a 300-year-old sculpture, “Statue of the Two Hercules,” in Cremona, Italy; the destruction of a statue of Dom Sebastiao, a 16th-century ruler, in Lisbon; and the highly publicized smashing of a glowing LED pumpkin in an immersive exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C

The narcissistic need to include one’s own image in a photo under various circumstances led the Russian government to warn selfie addicts in a “Safe Selfie” pamphlet that “A selfie on the railway tracks is a bad idea if you value your life.” There was, of course, a reason this example was cited.

Indeed, Russian police report that at least ten people died in 2015 taking selfies, with hundreds more injured. In 2015, 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.

Finally, there’s the issue of the selfie stick, in particular with the stick’s owner as he focuses more on a Facebook Live broadcast and ignores passersby and traffic that includes large moving vehicles including buses. I’ve seen more near hits by buses and trucks in touristy areas of Manhattan in the past few months than ever before.

All of us at Frequent Business Traveler are avid photographers and we are of the firm belief that travelers should document their trips with photographs. To echo what Jonathan Spira said two years ago, I further suggest tempering the number of selfies one takes by alternating them with photographs of the scenery, architecture, and historic relics that one is visiting.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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