This evening I was watching the news, an unusual event for me, and there was a story about people who have been killed taking selfies at beauty spots. It seems to be becoming a serious problem as more and more travellers seek the perfect photo for their social media feed.
I have written about this before. I have complained about the bad manners of these people who are so self-absorbed that they don’t care if they get in the way of other people and spoil their view. I understand people wanting to get a photo to share with family and friends but it has gone way past that. Now people want extreme photos and they are taking unacceptable risks to get them. There have been more than 200 deaths involving people taking selfies between 2014-2018. I don’t see that number going down.
They climb guard rails and teeter on the edge of cliffs just for the sake of a stupid photo which may end up being the last one ever taken of them. Don’t they understand that barriers are there for a reason?
It seems that these days the photo opportunity is more important than the actual experience of being in a special place. Do these people really appreciate what they are seeing? Do they even look?
I recall years ago visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock) in central Australia. At sunrise and sunset, the rock appears to change colour so people would all go to photograph it. Now I imagine that the line of photographers probably all stand with their backs to the beautiful sight so they can photograph themselves “watching” the event. Most of them probably miss it but at least they have a nice photo to Instagram.
Another disturbing trend involving social media is the increasing number of people performing stunts for social media channels who are killed or injured when they go wrong.
I’ve never been a big fan of having my photo taken, even on holidays it is rare for me to be photographed unless I am with friends who want a picture. I don’t feel that the world is missing out because there are few photos of me especially now that I’m way past my best. However, it seems that I’m in the minority as the whole world seems intent on immortalising themselves on social media.
Now it seems to me that many people have become so obsessed with selfies that they travel the world photographing themselves without actually noticing the scenery. In Singapore we went for a ride on a sampan in the shopping centre at Marina Bay Sands. Two young girls with a small child sat in front of us and honestly I think they wasted their money on the ride as they spent the entire trip taking photos of each other and the child. Not once did they look at where they were going.
Everywhere we went we encountered tourists being photographed or taking selfies in front of tourist attractions. Well of course at a popular attraction whether it be Gardens on the Bay in Singapore or the Sydney Opera House you are going to have to deal with crowds and it’s almost impossible to get a photo without some people in it. Even forty years ago when I first visited Sydney there were tourists who would ask us if we’d take a photo of them with their cameras. I don’t really mind that so much. It’s a nice holiday memory. Now people don’t just do a quick pose in front of the attraction though. They have to strike a pose, jump in the air, wave their arms around or pose like they are in that famous scene from “Titanic”. And it’s not just one photo, they have to have dozens. Then there are the ones with the selfie sticks who march around getting into everyone elses’ picture without so much as an “I beg your pardon.”
I”ve noticed that people who actually enjoy photography are a bit more polite, they take their pictures and then move on so someone else can have a go but the selfie brigade notice nothing but their own faces. It does make me mad that so many of these people are bad mannered and inconsiderate of others but it also makes me think that so many of them are missing the point of travel by focussing so much on themselves and not what’s going on around them.