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I Hate Selfie Sticks. Was the Human Arm Such a Problem?

I just want to grab each one I see and break it over my knee.

If CES showed us anything, it’s that the selfie stick is here to stay.

For those few who have not yet been annoyed by them, these devices are telescoping wands that allow users to extend their phone cameras to get a better shot when creating a self-portrait.

In the Las Vegas Convention Center, I walked past rows of selfie sticks (as well as belfie sticks for, no kidding, butt selfies). These selfie sticks have already been enormously popular in Asia, and now they’ve made big inroads in the U.S., at first ironically but now less so.

Was the human arm such a problem? Apparently.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a selfie. I don’t need to take a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge, because I know there’s already a better one on Google, but I do like to take a selfie with a friend in front of it. It marks that I was there, shows me moving through time on that particular morning. And I like the camera angle, a little too close and usually slightly off kilter with my arm on the edge of the frame.

But the selfie stick professionalizes and disembodies these moments. The pictures are too good — like maybe someone else took it or a drone flew overhead. And the false but lovely conceit that selfies are casual offhand moments is destroyed when you realize someone carted that stick around with them all day to make sure the moment was a little too perfect.

I know I’ll probably make peace with the selfie stick and use one in some dystopian future. But for now, I just want to grab each one I see and break it over my knee.

A while ago, someone emailed me a book called “You Are Photogenic: Discover Your True Self With Photo-Image in the Age of the Selfie” by Pina Di Cola. She goes into the health benefits of a good selfie and how to practice “safe selfie.”

Here, an excerpt:

I believe selfies can be used as a means towards self-discovery, a way to see yourself, and overall, a fun way to connect with friends.

Since younger people are in a lot of ways still getting to know themselves, I recommend that teens take group photos instead of taking too many selfies. I suggest practicing “safe selfies.” Take selfies of your different facial expressions, at different angles, to better understand your own face and what you really look like to others. But be sure to keep in mind that the selfie is not an accurate representation of your face.

Instead of showing your selfies to your “followers,” try to keep them personal and simply archive them for only you to see. This won’t allow you to gain online popularity but it’ll definitely let your brain process the different sides of you that it longs to see in order to create a clear image of who you are.

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