Yes, we’ve written about the use of – and ban on – selfie sticks before, but we can’t help doing a follow-up on this most fascinating of travel topics. Particularly since media reports have revealed a crazy 2015 statistic: as of September this year, more people died from taking selfies than shark attacks.
So far, the scorecard goes: Shark attacks: 8 Selfies: 12. Four of the selfie deaths this year were caused by falling. This includes the Japanese tourist who died last week taking a selfie at the Taj Mahal.
The next leading cause of death involving selfies was being hit or injured by trains, either because the individual was trying to get a photo with a train or because the photo they wanted involved getting on dangerous equipment.
And then there’s the death by selfie-stick in Wales when the metal rod a man was holding was struck by a lightning bolt. Other deaths have been caused by distracted photo-takers crashing their cars and even shooting themselves while posing with guns.
No, the numbers aren’t enormous. But it does make you ask the question – why? What is it exactly that makes selfie-takers so likely to put themselves in danger?
An intriguing bit of research published by Ohio State University last year found that men who post a lot of selfies score higher in traits of narcissism and psychopathy in online tests. While all the participants were still in the healthy range, the scores suggest that they may be more inclined to focus on personal gain in situations, rather than potential danger.
“It’s all about me. It’s putting me in the frame. I’m getting attention and when I post that to social media, I’m getting the confirmation that I need from other people that I’m awesome,” lead researcher Jesse Fox told Reuters. “You don’t care about the tourist attraction you’re destroying; you don’t care about annoying people in your social media feed … you’re not even thinking about the consequences of your actions, so who cares if you’re dangling off the side of the Eiffel Tower?”
Food for thought. Just not shark food.