General Travel Tips

Selfie Sticks: Friend or Foe?

I’m sure that over the past couple of years you’ve probably heard quite a lot of chatter about selfie sticks, those selfie arm extending metal rods which allow users to take better selfies. I’ve heard people praising the selfie stick and I’ve heard people complain bitterly about it. I do not own a selfie stick myself, but I’ve of course seen them around and encountered them quite a bit. Personally, I see the appeal, but I also see some of the downsides to them. I decided to take a look objectively at the pros and cons of the selfie stick and examine just what it is about them that gets people so fired up.The conclusion I came to is that they are a good thing, but that people need to be more respectful with them. Read on for more…

Selfie Stick Lovers

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Let’s face it: selfie sticks were invented for a reason. Somebody saw a need out there and created a product to fill the demand. I’ve heard a lot of people getting fired up about people taking selfies all the time, but I respond to that with a resounding who cares if somebody wants to take pictures of themselves? Let them. It doesn’t hurt anybody. That’s a debate for a different day, however, so I won’t get into that too much.

More practically speaking, selfie sticks can be great for solo travelers or couples who are traveling together and want to have photos taken from their trip that don’t all look like this:

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Look, Ma! I’m in Kauai…and I have a GIANT HEAD!

With a selfie stick, people can take photos from their travels and their fun outings that have a little more focus on the travels and the outings and a little less focus on just how large a percentage of the photo can be taken up with their heads. I’ve been on many trips where the addition of a selfie stick would have been a welcome thing to have, especially when I’m standing in front of some beautiful natural wonder or world famous landmark trying to get my reluctant husband to take a picture of me with the thing. He’s not a big fan of taking pictures, whereas I absolutely love taking them. For that reason, I always end up with a lot of really great pictures of him standing in front of epic landscapes and famous buildings from every trip and a whole bunch of selfies with my giant head from every trip we go on. It’s quite ridiculous.

They are also nice because when you want a picture taken of yourself or of you as a couple, you don’t need to find somebody to ask to take your picture. For some people, this may be no problem, but I can be a little shy with people. I don’t want to bother somebody’s busy day and make them stop to take a photo of me. It’s OK if somebody is clearly a fellow tourist and looks like they would like the favor returned, but there’s not always somebody like that around to ask. And what if you’re tromping through the jungle and there’s nobody at all to ask? A selfie stick would come in quite handy.

Selfie Stick Haters

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I’ve heard plenty of negative arguments about selfie sticks as well. A lot of museums and crowded tourist attractions have started banning them, citing claims of safety or for protecting their exhibits. I get it. If you’re the National Gallery in London and you’ve got a bunch of oblivious tourists waving selfie sticks around with reckless abandon, you would NSSbe right to worry that it’s only a matter of time before one of those selfie sticks whacks
right into one of your priceless works of art and damages it. If you’re Disneyland and
you’ve got so many people crowding into your park that they can barely walk, you’re right
to ban selfie sticks because you don’t want people whacking each other in the head and poking each other’s eyes out with the thing.

A lot of people point in narcissism as a reason for hating the selfie stick, but honestly, it’s fine to want to take a picture of yourself from time to time. Really. It’s OK. Before we all had phones with front facing cameras, we just had other people take our pictures. And I like seeing people’s selfies. I like seeing happy pictures of my smiling friends. I like that a mom of 4 can take a picture with her entire family all in the frame and be in the photo herself as well. It’s nice. It’s a good invention.

In Conclusion

Look. Selfie sticks aren’t inherently evil. They aren’t a sign of the coming of the end of days, as some people would have you believe. They are just extending sticks which people can use to better take a picture of themselves or of themselves with a friend. No big deal. Nice to have, in some cases. On the other hand, what it really boils down to is that people are inconsiderate. People (as a group at large) cannot be trusted to always be respectful and aware of their surroundings. They unfortunately cannot always be trusted to be considerate of the people next to them. I’ve certainly been shoved aside and elbowed with reckless abandon at many a crowded attraction, and I’ve certainly had to duck out of the way of selfie sticks wielded by oblivious tourists in order to avoid black eyes or bumps on the head. Yeah, I was annoyed too. The real problem is not selfie sticks in and of themselves. The real problem is that for every 10 people that own a selfie stick and use it in a manner that doesn’t bother anybody else, there’s one person who feels the need to use the selfie stick as their own personal head bashing weapon in crowded areas. And that’s why we can’t have nice things.

What do you think? I know there are a lot of very strong opinions on the topic. Would love to hear yours!

 

6 replies »

  1. I hate them because people don’t take notice of their surroundings before using them. They just whip them out and, like you said, wave them around. There is no ‘personal space’ when it comes to selfie sticks. I don’t have an issue with selfies, per se, but the sticks are just plain annoying.

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  2. I’ve always loathed selfie sticks because they’re just so obnoxious… especially after living in London, Paris, and Washington DC where there are just so many tourists all the time! But recently my mom bought one for me and I took it on a solo trip and it turned out to actually be useful! Granted I only used it maybe 3 or 4 times the entire week, but it was a good way to get myself in a photo to prove I did something while on vacation. But I will admit, the art of the selfie stick is not an easy one to learn!

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