WEB & TECH / OCT. 19, 2015
version 8, draft 8

The Latest Epidemic Isn't Ebola - It's Selfie-Inflicted Deaths

I know that as a writer I have a tendency to become superfluous for comedic effect – and granted, I’m an avid anti-food Instagramer, an anti-hatebooker, and an anti-vaguebooker – but what I’m going to talk about is an honest-to-goodness abortion of technological trends. And it kills. Hmm… whaddayaknow? Just like abortion. I guess that was a pretty good metaphor.

Oh, by the way, for the uninformed: hatebooking is when you write something hateful but in a jovial passive aggressive way, i.e.: “Frozen yogurt is delicious, if you’re one of those yogurt-loving types”. Vaguebooking, meanwhile, is when you write something vague but you’re obviously targeting someone in particular (to someone who has a light-haired partner, for example), i.e.: “Light-haired people should keep their damn dark hair out of certain dark-haired people’s drains! Grr! #WhyOhWhyMeGod”. (Funny thing about the previous little quip: initially, “dark-haired” and “light-haired” were reversed, but it sounded racist for some weird reason).

I swear I’m not on another one of my rants about the ridiculousness of social media; this is real, people… Selfies kill more people than sharks do every year.

See Also: Top 10 Most Popular Selfie Spots in the World

I Don’t Want to Live on this Planet Anymore

According to the statistics, up until now, 12 people have died this year due to selfie-related reasons. Although most of them were a result of falling, some even involved trains… yes, trains. Because what else screams “I’m a smart, intelligent individual that likes trains” like a picture of a multi-ton hunk of steel barreling down at you at 70mph – with your back turned to it – as you hold your hand up and make the peace sign? The other deaths were primarily the result of falling, but the plague of selfie deaths has a deadly friend:

The Selfie Stick

Selfie sticks, if you are over 45 years of age, are extendable poles that can be connected to a camera or a smartphone to extend its viewing angle so you can take a picture of yourself. Damn it, Bob… I can’t explain it to you again, just ask Tommy, he’s actually using one right now.

So, these innocuous contraptions have actually created more chaos than you can imagine. In an attempt to get the perfect vacation shot, for example, 66-year-old Japanese tourist Hideto Ueda died after falling down a staircase at the Taj Mahal. Yes, so this trend doesn’t only kill the young, dumb, and full of – um… how does it go? Oh, right – fun. It is also kills the old, wise, and frail.

A large number of institutions from museums to amusement parks are now taking a stand against selfie sticks and have started raising awareness of the damage and injuries their use could result in. The list is exhaustive, and although listing them here would drastically help my word count, I’m pretty sure my boss and editor would tar and feather me if I dared list them. So here they are, courtesy of Yahoo! Tech, because I haven’t been to a good tarring and feathering in years:

  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Brixton Academy, London
  • Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn
  • Canadian Museum of Human Rights
  • Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
  • Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Comic-Con, San Diego
  • Dallas Museum of Art
  • Detroit Institute of Arts
  • Disney World theme parks
  • Emirates Stadium, London – home of Arsenal F.C.
  • Getty Center, Los Angeles
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • O2 Arena, London
  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas
  • Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
  • Six Flags, theme park operator
  • Soccer stadiums throughout Brazil
  • The Colosseum, Rome
  • The Guggenheim, New York
  • The National Gallery, London
  • The Smithsonian Institution, across 19 museums and galleries
  • Wembley Stadium, London
  • White Hart Lane stadium, London – home of Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
  • Wimbledon tennis tournament, London

Beyond the Deaths

I know that the article is about gruesome selfie-inflicted deaths and I really haven’t delivered, but I’m not an exploitive type of writer… (if you ignore my sex articles, that’s not actually invalid). To prove this, let’s talk about art. Stop running away!

I’m going to talk about destroying priceless artwork to get the perfect social media-worthy snapshot. One Italian student sat on an ancient statue’s lap to take a selfie at a museum in Milan, breaking it in the process. Fortunately, however, it was a replica of the Greco-Roman era original.

You just won’t let the gruesome go, will you? Okay, fine: here is a selfie-recorded car accident, and another video of a couple falling to their deaths, you sick bastards.

I can confirm the car crash is real; as for the incredibly realistic rendering of the couples’ death, I can neither confirm nor deny.

The problem is even bigger in Russia, and the government has actually launched an anti-selfie campaign called Safe Selfies. The material created for the campaign shows restricted signs with blocky figures in various stages of escalating selfie insanity. The first shows a mild-mannered person taking a selfie, the next shows someone leaning into the way of a moving train with a selfie stick, leaning off the back of a moving boat, tickling some sort of wild animal, holding a loaded gun (I assume, I’ll tell you why in a second), hanging off a freaking aerial antenna, holding onto a moving train, and snapping a picture while tumbling down a slope with boulders like Wile E. Coyote.

The reason I assumed that the gun was loaded in the campaign material is because a 21-year-old Russian woman actually shot herself in the head while attempting to take what I assume was the most gangsta selfie ever. She apparently held the loaded pistol to her head and accidentally pulled the trigger. For all you death mongers out there, suck it, because she survived but was in a critical condition after the accident (no shit).

Maybe it’s a 21-year-old thing because another victim of the same age and under the same circumstances – firearms and selfies (plus alcohol, in this case) – had a similar fate, but sadly did not live to tell the tale. Oscar Otero Aguilar tried posing for a selfie with a borrowed gun, which accidentally discharged and instantly killing him.

In a third case, a man from Phoenix, Arizona died after posing for a selfie, with his sister no less, when the gun he was using as a prop went off.

Through the Looking Glass

There is a psychological effect known as the looking-glass self, which is not how we see your selves but what we perceive others see us. Well, guess what, ladies and gentlemen? Selfies are a physical manifestation of the looking-glass self. So, even though a quick glimpse at your Instagram profile might reveal a train-dodging, gun-totting badass gourmet foodie, your reality is much sadder and infinitely more boring and filled with microwavable dinners. It gets darker, though – as in dark triad dark.

It sounds ominous because it is: the dark triad (just imagine a thunderclap every time you read that, for full effect) describes three characteristics:  narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. These three characteristics describe a person that is callous and manipulative, a general embodiment of evil, as an umbrella term. Just because evil isn’t enough, we’ll add self-objectification to the mix which is seeing your body as an object of sexual worth (think of all the selfies you’ve seen with girls sticking their chests out and guys, well,  sticking their chests out).

Well, not only did habitual selfie-takers rank high on the scale of narcissism and psychopathy, they also got high marks regarding self-objectification. If you add to that heavy Facebook usage (something people that have high narcissism and low self-esteem tend to do, which are two contradicting personality traits), you are a regular Mussolini/Gaddafi. Just pick a horrible, murderous human being from the rich pages of history.

See Also: Men Who Post Selfies Online Could be Psychopaths

How do you feel about selfies? Let us know in the comments section below!

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