Your perfect ‘selfie’ shot could be life threatening

Your perfect ‘selfie’ shot could be life threatening

No Selfie Zone

Faiza Rizvi

It started as a style statement, turned into an obsession, but now trying to capture that perfect selfie could be a life-threatening hazard, according to experts. Last year, the seflie craze allegedly caused 27 deaths in different parts of the world, which reports suggest made selfies more hazardous to life than sharks. The changing mindset, where popularity of an individual is measured by the number of ‘likes’ on Instagram or the number of ‘retweets’ on Twitter is believed to be one of the major causes of the ‘death by selfie’ phenomenon. According to author and researcher Laurence Scott, social media leads to a constant awareness of how we are being presented and hence, while visiting a place or witnessing a unique monument, for instance, instead of basking in its physical presence, we immediately think about it in terms of how many ‘likes’ it could garner.

Psychologists believe that the need for acceptance and recognition on social media, especially among youth, has been elevated due to widespread use of technology and smartphones. American Psychiatric Association even called the act of indulging in selfies a social disorder, where individuals try to take shots in extreme situations and bizarre angles which eventually lead to accidental deaths. In a recent tragic incident, police reported death of a Washington resident that accidentally shot himself in the head while taking selfies. In Russia, two men were killed while taking a selfie with a hand grenade while another 17-year old Russian schoolboy fell from the rooftop and died as he tried to take a selfie for his Instagram page. Injury due to selfies is becoming such a serious problem in Russia that the government has started a public service campaign cautioning young people against taking selfies near trains, on rooftops, or in the presence of dangerous animals.

According to reports, India topped list of countries that witnessed ‘selfie deaths’ in 2015. Recently, a 66-year-old Japanese man visiting the Taj Mahal tripped and tumbled down the stairs while attempting to take a selfie. He suffered severe head injuries and succumbed to death. In a similar incident, three Indian students were killed by an oncoming train while taking selfies on railway tracks while another student fell from 60-feet deep ravine trying to impress his peers with a selfie on the edge of a rock which cracked and gave way. Also, two college students drowned while trying to capture selfies with the scenic beauty of canal water. Following these deaths, Mumbai police identified a dozen “no-selfie zones” in popular tourist areas.

These tragic and completely avoidable incidents should be a wakeup call for those of us who flow in the frenzy of social media, smartphones and extreme selfies. These accidents serve as a strict reminder to use the lens more responsibly and avoid taking selfies just for the sake of seeking attention on social media.  Earlier this year, Dubai police has started imposing fines for those taking selfies while driving. Moreover, an educative moment called #SelfieToDieFor has been started by Indian entrepreneur Deepak Gandhi, to increase awareness of taking selfies in dangerous locations and capturing thrilling moments with a sense of awareness that can otherwise prove to be fatal. Its website explains that “the program is conceptualized with an objective to drive a mass movement and appeal the youth to click selfies responsibly. After all, you need to be around to count the huge number of likes on your selfie post, don’t you?”