The selfie stick is a real product. For the
longest I thought it was just a running joke on social media. You know, a gag
gift. It’s not. It’s a legitimate photography accessory that enhances one’s ability
to take smartphone self-portraits – selfies. Guess I’m in a cave when it comes
to certain popular culture merchandise. Still, as marketable as it is there’s another,
less welcome aspect to the apparatus.
|President Obama has a selfie stick? Say it ain't so.|
Selfie sticks are handheld telescoping extenders that increase the distance between people and their smartphones when snapping pictures. In the process they create another kind of distance, the kind between the photographer and passersby. And that’s the rub.
In the old days you had to ask a stranger for an assist if you wanted your entire group in a shot. Now we have one more way not to interact with human beings we don’t know. ATM’s, automated customer service, grocer self-checkouts – we're moving farther and farther apart, thanks to technology.
Although the spellcheck ap on my computer keeps flagging “selfie”, it’s listed in Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia defines the selfie stick as, “…a monopod used to take selfie photographs by positioning a smartphone or camera beyond the normal range of the arm.”
I exalt this product to the same degree I covet refrigerator door magnets and Chia
Pets. Who actually buys them? Turns out, an awful lot of people. How this
cultural phenomenon got my eyeballs and into the mainstream is beyond me. Maybe
it’s because I’ve never seen one in action.
|Why interact with fellow human beings when you don't have to?|
A simple Internet search further confirmed my ignorance. They’re sold everywhere – from WalMart to Best Buy. Google lists a site that rates them. “The Top 8 Selfie Sticks”. There’s even a website called selfiestick.com. Who knew?
Taking a deeper dive, I surfed Amazon.com and guess what I found? Selfie sticks. Lots of them. They sell from a few bucks to more than $100. Some even have a Bluetooth feature that allows it to do something, although I wasn’t curious enough to keep reading and find out.
|This might be why Disney banned selfie sticks|
(Random factoid: Disney also prohibits certain “inappropriate” tattoos, so I might be personally banned if I show up shirtless to see Mickey. Luckily the facial hair restriction is no longer enforced. Oh wait, that was just for park employees).
This whole isolation thing reminds me of the mentality most of us have about being in physical proximity with each other. Like at shopping mall food courts. People go out of their way not to sit at tables occupied by strangers that have open seats. Even if there are no other chairs, folks will orbit, trays in hand, until an entire table is vacant before swooping in.
Privacy is the reason given for not wanting to share space with others, (second only to “germs”). Privacy from what? Do perfect strangers across from you who are enjoying their Kung Pao Chicken really care about your Aunt Mable’s preferred hemorrhoid product?
|Quick, open seats. No wait; we'd have to share the table.|
In the end, sure it can be uncomfortable to approach a stranger and ask them to take your picture. The benefit though is that it stretches you in such a way that bolsters your sense of humanity, acceptance and inclusion. And be honest, after you help a group of smiling faces with their Kodak Moment, doesn’t leave you feeling good inside? That alone is the price of admission, tattoos or not.
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at email@example.com.