Selfie Stick Deaths Reveal Dangers of Narcissism and Tech

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on September 25, 2015 12:15 PM

Narcissus was killed when he gazed lovingly at his own reflection in a pool of water and drowned. Now technology has brought Greek mythology to life.

Twelve people died from selfie-stick-related deaths in 2015, and that is just known cases. Let's take a look at these sticks and the safety hazards they present.

The Stick Demystified

We begin with the basics. A selfie is an image of oneself taken on a smart phone. A selfie stick -- in photographer's terms -- is a mobile monopod. Basically, it is like an arm for smart phones, enabling better reach and angles when snapping shots of yourself.

Typically, a selfie stick is an expandable metal pole with a handle on one end and a clamp for a camera phone on the other. The thicker end of the stick holds the camera and the handle end is quite thin.

The idea is very simple: clamp camera to stick, raise it, point at self, and click. Usually the result is an image of your glorious pose. But sometimes -- and not as rarely as you might think -- the results are tragic.

Twelve Tragic Ends

A Texas teen accidentally shot himself while posing with a gun: he pulled the trigger rather than snapping a pic. This mistake was deadly. A similar accident occurred when a Russian woman who shot herself in the head while snapping a shot. Two Russian men using selfie sticks for an image with a grenade were also killed.

A Japanese woman in India wanted to capture herself at the Taj Mahal and went tumbling to her end. A Russian woman went backward off a bridge mid-photo. And an American woman tumbled off a cliff in South Africa while snapping a shot.

Three Indian teenagers were hit by an oncoming train while taking pictures on the tracks. Youths in Russia and Romania were electrocuted when their selfie sticks touched live wires near train tracks.

Popular Culture and Prohibitions

Selfies and the associated sticks have been the source of much pop culture humor. Pizza Hut made a fake public service announcement about the dangers of selfie sticks and The Chainsmokers have a song, called Selfie, narrated by selfie-snapping airheads that will give you all the insight on our brave new world.

Still, the danger of these oft-mocked sticks is no joke and prohibitions on their use abound. Disney World and Six Flags bar them, as do many international sporting venues. Even Apple -- which makes much of its iPhone cameras -- banned selfie sticks at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference.

Deadlier Than Sharks

Although it has been noted that more people died from selfie-stick-related deaths than shark attacks in 2015 so far, the danger of the stick seems to only be associated with the person attached to it. In our eagerness to capture our moments, we get distracted. And that's when the selfie goes tragic.

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