Selfies Caused More Deaths Than Shark Attacks

Digital cameras have made self portraits so common these days that they are now referred to as “selfies”. The rise of social media platforms and the ability for smartphones to capture photos and videos at any time have been able to capture and share countless fascinating adventures and journeys of self expression. In 2015 there were a high number of deaths associated with the act of taking a selfie, and more people have died in 2015 taking selfies than have lost their lives to the sea in a shark attack. Taking selfies can be a great way to include everyone in a picture, a fast way to upload a photo ID, or a quick way to capture a unique point in time to be remembered later. The boundaries of etiquette and social norms have been pushed, with selfies being captured at inopportune times such as at a funeral or a commemoration ceremony.

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Admittedly, death by selfie or death from a shark attack are both highly unlikely. Worldwide, there have only been 8 reported fatal shark attacks and 12 deaths directly related to actively taking a selfie. While there are more deaths related to taking selfies, there are far more people taking selfies every single day than there are people frolicking in shark territory. Death by selfie is not something to panic about every time a self portrait is revealed, but there does need to be an awareness of one’s surroundings that will allow for safe selfies that don’t endanger the selfie taker and those around them.

The Taj Mahal reported an incident when a 66 year old man lost his balance on a flight of stairs while taking a selfie with his companion. The companion survived after being treated for injuries, but the 66 year old man did not. Selfies at the edge of balconies and cliffs should be given respect with the gravity they command. Some selfie related deaths are attributed to daredevils who intentionally place themselves in dangerous situations such as the top of a skyscraper or radio tower. A quick selfie at the top is a trophy and a reminder of the adrenaline fueled event. Then there are other selfie takers who are absorbed into their social media world while driving or walking through dangerous areas and forget to pay attention to what is going on around them. Behind the wheel of a car or the middle of a construction zone is not the time to be taking pictures.

Something invented in regard to the selfie is the “selfie stick”. A selfie stick is a collapsible phone mount which gives a photographer control of their camera from a short distance away. Selfie-aficionados enjoy carrying these around so that they can star in their own show, but many travelers have also found selfie sticks to be useful in providing a safe way to capture selfies with family and friends. A selfie stick allows for more people to get in a photo and prevents the photographer from losing their balance on uneven ground and does not require that a stranger be asked to get everyone in the picture. Some tourist spots are slow to accept selfie sticks, arguing that selfie sticks ruin the ambiance and do not respect revered or historical sites. It’s always good to check and make sure that selfies are acceptable in certain situations. Places like funerals or monasteries might have objections to the taking of selfies.

Parents can look out for their children and explain some of the risks associated with taking selfies. Sometimes, low self-esteem and a desire for attention can be the cause of excessive projection of self through social media or other online accounts. Too much absorption into using the Internet can lead to addiction and other unhealthy behavior. It is important to know that just because something seems cool or will be a great angle to capture a photo or video from does not mean that it is a safe, wise or prudent decision. As with anything, there should be a healthy balance between having fun and staying safe.

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