On a recent trip overseas, I expected to see selfie sticks everywhere. After all, not only do we wish to place ourselves in exotic (or beautiful) locales, but we wish to look tip top — at the proper distance, at our best angles, the backdrop just so — when we are about to capture that happy smile and share it on Instagram, Twitter, and anywhere else we enjoy posting.
To my surprise, though my companion and I hit at least a dozen notable locations over the course of six days, only once did I see the potentially practical and offending wonder wand itself — the selfie stick.
And, I might add, in one location, a prominent sign strictly forbid this very (intrusive?) clever contraption.
Like many of us, I remember the days when we didn’t have smartphones or tablets, and therefore, we couldn’t take selfies. Nor could we avail ourselves of a delay function, enabling us set the camera on a surface and scoot in front of it. Our Instamatics and Canons (and Polaroids for the impatient) offered no such sophistication at the time.
Instead, we were required to ask a kindly stranger to take a picture of us. All Very Touristy. Naturally, we would size him or her up first, not only to minimize the embarrassment, but to assess if we would annoy. While most of my snapshots from trips going back years do not include yours truly, I nonetheless possess a few (that make me chuckle) there were impeccably composed by smiling strangers with a glimpse of Moscow or the Riviera behind me.
So where do you stand on the subject? While on vacation or touring a museum — to selfie or not to selfie? To assume the position (or not) at a greater distance from the lens courtesy of the selfie stick?
One of the concerns I have with the selfie stick, though I readily recognize its usefulness, is the following. Without it, in theory, the greatest amount of space you can take up when taking a shot of yourself is the distance of your arm as it is extended. However, once you affix your device to a selfie stick, suddenly you are potentially interfering with the pleasure of others, and you are quite literally In Their Space.
No wonder there was a “nix” on the sticks in one museum where I wandered about.
I’m all for placing ourselves in an environment so we snap a few frames or video to make mementos. And what’s not to love about texting a picture to a friend, or for that matter, posting it to your wall or the feed of your choice? Where I have concerns is when we take it too far – when we are more involved in snapping pics than enjoying the experience, and more absorbed by what others will think than what we gain from what we’re doing.
Naturally, I found myself snapping away while cruising the Seine, and attempting (and flubbing) a few selfies here and there with a new tablet. I’m glad I didn’t get too wrapped up in that little activity, or I would’ve missed some other delights — everything from the sighting of a very interesting bearded gentleman on a rather unique vehicle (of his design?), a startling pooch of substantial dimensions, an equally quirky mirrored form in the shape of some sort of creature that elicits a smile, not to mention the exceptional experience of coming upon Brussel’s Grande Place at night.
So I guess I’m a stickler for selfie moderation and selfie etiquette, with or without a stick. Yes, I love my moments as captured by my amateur attempts at photography, and the way they keep the experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy sharp in memory. But isn’t it intriguing when you make new friends by politely asking, “Would you mind taking a picture?”
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