Last year Rolling Stone ran a story titled Death by Selfie: 11 Disturbing Stories of Social Media Pics Gone Wrong covering fatal shots that ranged from falling down the steps of the fabled Taj Mahal to succumbing to a lethal walrus. Yes. Walrus.
The magazine also reported that in 2015, selfie deaths outnumbered shark deaths, adding, “Tourist destinations such as Mumbai have gone so far as to designate selfie-free zones.”
The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has an updated list of selfie deaths, categorizing them. Falls, electrocution and “transport”–taking selfies while on moving objects, like a train–lead the fatal pack. We used to be concerned about distracted driving. Now we’re concerned about distracted portraits.
You can view “last photos” online or even on YouTube, as in this video (replete with “Jaws”-like background music):
The “selfie” phenomenon is covered in Interpersonal Divide in the Age of the Machine, as this except illustrates:
The selfie is a sign of one’s social media prowess with the solitary ego as cultural centerpiece. People have died taking selfies, losing footing on ledges; some have shot themselves, taking selfies; and some risked their lives, taking selfies with grizzly bears in the background. We so trust our machines and their virtual environments that we are oblivious to dangers of physical environments. The more machines document and surveil every moment of our lives, the more they have metamorphosed into lives of their own, with users unable to assess where the gadgets end and their real existence begins.
Of course, selfies are only one example of interpersonal ignorance. A more lethal phenomenon is using apps like Snapchat while driving. More on that in a future post.