Selfie Death Toll Rising

Nineteen-year-old Deleon Smith was posing for a selfie with what he thought was an unloaded gun. He accidentally shot himself and died. He would have started college the next day.

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A daring selfie taken for the Selfie Olympics

Xenia Ignatyeva was a 17 year old girl trying to take the perfect selfie with the best lighting. It was the last picture she would ever take, as she fell off a railway bridge and was electrocuted on power lines.

Courtney Sanford (32) was having fun singing and driving on her way to work in North Carolina. Her Facebook post right before she crashed read, “The happy song makes me so HAPPY,” along with a selfie of her smiling.

There are many people who have taken dangerous selfies and accidentally been  injured or suffered the consequences of death. Is it worth risking life to get a good photo with a lot of likes?

Is a selfie worth dying for?

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Kelly Nash (sports reporter) turned her back and took a selfie during the Boston Red Sox baseball practice.

A Twitter account, called The Selfie Game (also known as The Selfie Olympics) has the tagline, “How strong is your selfie game?” The Selfie Game labels some of the most dangerous selfies as the “best” selfies taken. This promoting and glorifying of these life-threatening selfies is irresponsible. Or is it just a game? Francis Burrows, director of charity Mindfull says, “Most people look at these images and are shocked-but for these young people it can become competitive.” Martin Voigt, psychologist adds, “The photo is not so much about the theme of it, but the component behind it—they play with danger,” (for example, the guy who set himself on fire for a selfie pictured above). 

To counter this new obsession of the most daring selfie as injuries and death tolls rise, Russia has taken action. The Russian police have recently released safety brochures and videos to ensure that the general public is warned about the dangers of certain selfies. Their campaign is called Safe Selfies.

America would do well to heed this movement.

Selfie Goes Viral

In 2014, a Wheaton graduate, Andrew Thompson ‘13, took a selfie at Yellowstone National Park with a bison in the background. His selfie ended up in the New York Times, Reddit, Imgur, countless articles, and on the cover of The Week.

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Andrew Thompson’s reply to The New York Times article

Thompson recounts, “I drove for about 30 minutes and came upon a herd of bison in the middle of the road. I parked my car and hopped out and started taking pictures of the bison with my Nikon.  Yellowstone NP dictates that visitors stay at least 25 yards from bison (which I didn’t yet know because I hadn’t read the materials).  I got closer than I ought to have, and snapped a quick selfie on my iPhone of me and a bison that was probably 10-20 yards away.” He said that he only could stay in the park one day, so he was in a rush to see the sights and didn’t read the information packet given to him upon entering.

His story reminds us that not all dangerous selfies are taken intentionally for the social-media ‘likes.’ He said, “I didn’t think twice about the selfie that sat in my photos app on my phone.  I didn’t share it or send it.”

In fact, it remained hidden on his phone for a full year before he shared it on The New York Times twitter page. Some people who take these dare devil selfies may just be in ignorance or be taking a spontaneous  “I-just-wasn’t-thinking” picture. Despite the fact that not all selfies are intentionally dangerous, people need to analyze the danger that the potential outcome of a selfie could be injury, or even – death.

Think First, Selfie Second

On October 9th of this year, I fell down the stairs as a result of looking down at my phone and missing a step (don’t worry, I wasn’t hurt!). Regardless of intention, a selfie distracts a person from whatever is going on around him or her. American Psychological Association says, “Dual-tasking compels the brain to pull from some shared, limited resource, slowing reaction time,” Even in a relatively safe environment, taking a selfie could potentially put anyone in a vulnerable position. Psychologist David Strayer says, “As technology and interruption become more and more prevalent, the negative consequences of not paying attention become more pronounced.”

Just remember to think before you selfie. 

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Man takes selfie during the Houston Bull Run

I’ll answer for you: A selfie is not worth dying for.

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Adventurer George Kourounis posts to Twitter  a selfie: in front of an active volcano