Take A Long, Hard Look At Your Selfies (Metro, 2nd Nov 2015)


As tourists risk their necks to snap themselves abroad, Amy Dawson asks: have we reached peak selfie?

These days it seems it’s safer to be in shark-infested waters than take a holiday selfie. Yes, you’re now statistically more likely to die while snapping a smartphone picture of yourself than be involved in a shark attack. People are falling and tripping – all while taking crazy, point-scoring risks. A significant chunk of the Colorado Trail has had to shut because hikers wouldn’t stop trying to get pictures of themselves with bears. Yellowstone Park has also issued a warning after a selfie-taking visitor was gored by a bison. We are living in the age of narcissism.

Yet, whether you’re travelling in Svalbard or Skegness, the likelihood is that your visage, however lovely, is going to be the least interesting thing on the horizon. There’s nothing categorically abhorrent about a holiday selfie or two. I’ve certainly taken a couple in my time – my favourite being a snap where I’m puckering up to a Bambi lookalike in the Japanese town of Nara, where tame deer roam the streets. But the biggest threat involved in that situation was the possibility that my furry friend might munch my miso-flavoured Mr Whippy.

If you are actively endangering your life just to get an iPhone picture, try to remember that you’re not an intrepid Blue Planet cameraman kayaking between ice floes in search of neverbefore-captured Narwhal footage. There’s something a tad dystopian about the sight of swarms of people not looking at the very thing they’ve travelled thousands of miles to see – a volcano, a temple, whatever it may be – but instead taking endless pictures of themselves, all so they can prove they’ve chalked up the experience on social media.

Indeed, selfie misdemeanours aren’t limited to places with perilous wildlife and hazardous landscapes. We can blame Beyoncé and Jay Z and their Mona Lisa selfie antics last year for the fact that galleries across the globe are now filled with people not looking at the actual paintings but instead elbowing each other aside to get a selfie with a masterpiece.

Now there are so many tourists stumbling around in a selfie-induced haze, brandishing sticks, that walking through central London can be like charging through a crowd of plastic bayonet-wielding zombies. Selfies are just the tip of the selfpromoting iceberg. Apparently, the next big thing is for travel companies to supply you with a personal photographer to document your trip,providing a constant stream of Instagram-worthy snaps.

And if that rather revolting prospect happens to appeal to you, just be careful where you’re standing while you get ready for your close-up