The trendsetter. It sparked massively popular social media trends. It was the basis of a viral hit song produced by the EDM sensation The Chainsmokers. It influenced the demand and development of an entire mobile phone industry.
Ever since the “selfie” became a global phenomenon, this self-taken portrait image type has been a favourite pose for tech-savvy, smartphone wielding travellers round the globe. A visit to a tourist site would likely entail a selfie shot.
It has become customary.
But not every selfie-shooting tourist completes the pose alive. Many have faced brutal deaths while seeking the most-perfect, most-glamorous photo.
In September 2015, 66 year old Hideto Ueda, during his visit to the Taj Mahal, passed away after a backward tumble down the steps while attempting to take a selfie of the grand mausoleum.
Two young Polish children looked on in horror as their parents, plunged down the edge of a cliff in Cabo da Raca, Portugal in 2014. The couple had slipped while trying to capture a selfie.
Jia Lijun, a Chinese businessman, entered the enclosure of a female walrus in a Liaoning zoo. He was reportedly particularly fond of the heavy animal and had wanted a selfie with her. He did not survive his “house visit” after the walrus descended on him from behind and pulled him underwater, where he drowned to death.
According to a study from the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care released in 2018, 259 people have lost their lives while taking a selfie, between October 2011 and November 2017.
A Possible Solution?
Jim Daly, Irish Minister for Mental Health and Older People recently proposed a suggestion to curb such tragic incidents. The politician called for seats or stands to be installed at various popular tourist spots across Ireland. Constructed at safe areas, they would prevent instances whereby individuals overstep the danger boundaries.
Additionally, the seats or stands would aid the visitors’ pursuit of the ideal photograph as they would be built at optimum photography spots of the attraction.
He told The Sothern Star, “Families and individuals love taking photographs of themselves in areas of natural beauty. But often it is almost impossible to find a steady location or to know where the best shot is.”
In Mumbai, the government took a more extreme approach.
In 2016, a ban on selfies was introduced in 16 danger zones across Mumbai. Anyone who ventures into those areas will be fined 1200 rupees.
Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs has also started a nationwide campaign warning people that “self-photography could cost you your life”.
While the selfie remains a worldwide social media phenomenon, it is worth keeping in mind that no selfie is worth anyone’s life.
When attempting to take a selfie, or any photo in particular, always look around to see if you are putting yourselves in any sort of danger.
Absolutely do not trespass or cross over into a demarcated danger area.
Remind yourselves that your own precious life is at stake; don’t let the adrenaline rush get to you.