Angle up your arm, strike a pose, and click the button. Selfies aren’t rocket science, they’re just pictures. Nonetheless, people manage to get in trouble (and hurt themselves) while taking them. It might seem obvious to you when taking a selfie is a bad idea — but you should always think twice.
Here are a few things to think about before you snap that next selfie.
What’s Wrong with Taking a Selfie?
A caretaker in Hong Kong lost her job because she was taking a selfie while she was supposed to be watching a child swimming in a pool. This paramedic was fired after taking selfies with dying patients and sharing them on social media. Another guy was fired after posting a selfie that went viral with a thread of racist comments about his co-worker’s son.
But losing your job isn’t the worst that selfies have done. A man was struck and killed by lightning because he was carrying a selfie stick. A pilot lost control of an airplane while taking a selfie, causing a deadly crash. The number of deaths and injuries caused by selfies is alarmingly high all over the world. Wikipedia even has a list of selfie-related injuries and deaths dating back to 2013 that has way too many lines.
How can you tell if you’re taking a harmless photo or crossing the line? Keep reading to find out how selfies became an obsession and when you should really think twice before snapping that “ultimate shot.”
Popularity That Led to Obsession
At the start, a selfie was just a picture you’d snap of yourself, doing whatever, wherever. Now, however, we go on social media looking for likes and comments. Sharing travel photos and pictures from events has become a silent competition of who’s having more fun and whose surroundings look more impressive.
It’s hard to imagine a place where no one has taken a selfie yet:
Taking a selfie while jumping off a cliff.
— Veronicca (@BeboIicious) October 29, 2014
Snapping a quick photo while diving with sharks.
A whole new meaning to “hot selfie.”
— George Kourounis (@georgekourounis) August 28, 2014
And, of course, selfies from the top of skyscrapers.
The latter has become a hobby for many extreme sports fans and photographers. The act of climbing roofs and high constructions, often illegally, is called “roofing.” Some do it for fun, some for an adrenaline rush. But everyone is determined to snap the craziest pictures while they’re “on top of the world.”
Roofers: On the Brink of Insanity
Russian roofers started surfacing on the internet around 2012. The movement has only been gaining popularity since. Roofers have taken pictures on top of old Soviet buildings, dams, and drainpipes all over the country — and then abroad.
And while a tour on the roofs might be an incredible journey, romantic and full of adrenaline, it all turned bittersweet once the reports of tragic deaths hit the media.
In 2015 alone, several accidents took the lives of young people in Russia. One of them was 17-year-old Andrey Retrovsky. The reckless roofer was after a new picture for his Instagram when he accidentally fell from the roof of a nine-story building in the city of Vologda.
Selfie fatalities have become a serious problem in Russia, with at least 10 Russians killed and over 100 injured while taking selfies. A woman shot herself in the head while posing with a gun, and another teenager was electrocuted while taking a selfie on top of a train.
A “Cool” Selfie Could Cost You Your Life
This is the ominous message on the Russian Interior Ministry’s “Take Safe Selfies” flyer.
Following the accidents, Russian authorities launched a campaign to warn young people of the potential dangers of taking reckless selfies.
They issued a booklet that illustrates dangerous selfie scenarios, including snapping a photo on an electricity pylon, standing in front of an oncoming train, or while in the company of a wild animal. As a part of the campaign, police officers also held selfie-safety lessons at schools.
It might sound ridiculous, but the problem was bad enough that the government took notice. And that’s a serious problem.
Roofers aren’t the only ones ready to take risks for a great picture. Tourists all over the world break the rules and walk on the edge to take priceless photos of their adventures. They climb the highest mountain peaks without the right gear, step a little too close to cliffsides, and even run up to deer and other animals.
Visit Norway, the official travel guide to Norway, came up with its own way to help travelers get that perfect shot without risking their lives.
The project, called #BeSafie, has two main components. One part includes a series of installations depicting large images of cliff edges and wild animals. Anyone can visit the installations to take those dramatic selfies in a safe environment.
The other component of #BeSafie is sharing the nine rules of the Norwegian Mountain Code. These rules cover everything from planning your trip carefully to not being ashamed to quit and turn around if necessary.
Another Issue: Unethical Selfies
Taking a selfie on a rooftop or in the wild can be dangerous. Unfortunately, that’s not the only case in which you should think twice before snapping a photo.
The artist has noticed tourists taking all kinds of goofy photos at the site and decided to show them a different perspective. Shapira took some of those selfies from social media and combined them with horrific footage from Nazi extermination camps. Then he put them up on the project’s website.
With the page getting over 2.5 million views, Yolocaust eventually reached all of its subjects. According to Shapira, most of them understood the message and took the pictures down from their social media accounts.
Most unethical selfies don’t receive this sort of backlash. But the message is clear.
Think Before You Strike A Pose
Those are only a few examples of how your selfie can be inappropriate or even endanger your life and that of others. A simple Google search for “getting in trouble for a selfie” will bring you hundreds of results of people get fired or injured themselves while trying to get that perfect shot.
Here are a few more situations when you might want to resist taking that selfie:
At the Hospital
This one is especially a no-go if you’re a hospital employee. If you absolutely have to do it, do make sure you’re not invading anyone’s space and that you’re the only one in the shot. But really, just don’t take selfies at the hospital.
At the Cemetery
If you’re not ready to be called out for what you’re doing (or even get fired for it), it’s better to resist the urge. If you’re not familiar with the consequences of Lindsey’s Stone’s photo at Arlington National Cemetery, give it a read.
Am bored, so here is a driving selfie. pic.twitter.com/jIfaHskSQS
— LowWisdomCzech (@LowWisdomCzech) March 27, 2017
#drivingselfie might be a trend, but definitely not a clever one. Don’t put your life and lives of those around you in danger by using one of your hands to snap a “really cool photo.” Optimistic tag #hopeidontcrash isn’t going to save your life, after all.
At Music Festivals
Let’s face it: nobody wants you waving your phone in front of their faces while they’re trying to watch the show. Several music festivals have already banned selfie sticks, giving them a brand new name — “narcistick.”
Where CAN You Take A Selfie?
I can see all the selfie lovers raging. “Is there ANYWHERE I can relax and enjoy taking my pictures without being looked down upon?” The answer is yes. As long as you’re not endangering yourself and others, it’s not a ballot selfie, and you’re not acting like a prick with a selfie stick, you’re good to go!
Truth is, even with all the controversy the trend receives, taking selfies is more popular than ever. And along with the people that don’t approve of it, there will always be those who believe it’s a form of art. Which side are you on?
Have you ever taken a controversial, unethical, or a dangerous selfie? Did we forget any obvious examples of when you shouldn’t snap a picture? Share your thoughts in the comments below!