Published in El Pais, 19 March 2019.
What is arguably the most used feature in any phone these days is the front facing camera, also known as the “selfie camera”. No longer do we have to ask for someone to take a picture. In fact, if we offer to take a picture of people taking a selfie, they will look at you like you are from Mars. As fun as these pictures are people are often going to great lengths to get the perfect selfie which has led to serious injuries and even death.
The most recent of these events happened roughly a week ago when a woman in the U.S climbed over a barrier at the jaguar exhibit to get a selfie with the animal only to be attacked through the cage. The woman suffered a serious injury and could have lost an arm, all for the chance of a few extra likes on Facebook. Another case is the one of a Brazilian tourist in Panama that lost balance from the balcony of the 27th floor attempting to take a selfie.
Many would think that these cases are just outliers and that most people are not that stupid, but you would be surprised. As many as 250 people have died while taking a selfie between 2011 and 2017. That’s a lot of deaths for doing something as innocent as taking a picture. From loosing control of an aircraft to being swept away in an ocean current, focusing more on the picture then one’s surroundings can be quite dangerous, not unlike being on your phone while driving.
This type of distracted behaviour came to a head with the popular Pokémon Go game. While not quite the same as taking photos, people were aimlessly walking around to catch fictional characters on their phone without paying the slightest bit of attention causing many accidents, trespassing and even illegal border crossings.
The cause of this is obvious, social media provides us an outlet to share our glorious photo to our friends (if you can call them that) to cause both admiration and jealousy. Now this is not to say do not take a selfie and if you take a beautiful photo please share it with the world, but we need to use common sense. Pay attention to your surroundings and if you see a dangerous animal in a cage take a safe photo from afar, and if you see one in the wild run, its not worth the “likes”.