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Is the Perfect Selfie Even Worth Risking Your Life For?

by Natasha Christopher

Image via The Washington Post 

‘Selfie’ has become a common word for everyone to use so much so that in the year 2013, it was chosen as the “Word of the Year” by Oxford English Dictionary. For those who are blind to this word or perhaps living another in a previous century, a selfie is an act of taking a photograph of yourself, with a camera held at arm’s length. This action alone has become so widely popular due to the famous social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many more where their selfies are being shared out.

I mean, is it even a selfie if you don’t upload it to your social media accounts?

But then, how did the word/act of selfie came about? 

The first selfie (referred to as a self-portrait at the time) has been credited to Robert Cornelius in the year 1839. He was one of the American pioneers of photography produced a daguerreotype of himself. Of course, back then there’s no such thing as a smartphone so what Cornelius would do is uncover the lens, run into the shot, hold his pose for about 2-3 seconds and replace the lens caps again. 

It wasn’t until a group of Australians, where a man took a bruised photo of him after a drunken night out and proceed to call the picture a selfie. Thus, begins a worldwide trend of taking selfies. Those who love to drink alcohol or occasionally get drunk, you know that’s where some of the best or worst stories happened. For them, it only took a drunken night and a word to start the selfie era. 

Selfie Enthusiast or just a Narcissist? 

International singer, Rihanna puckers up for a selfie in a duck face pose.

International singer, Rihanna puckers up for a selfie in a duck face pose.

All of us have taken a selfie at least once in our lives with the latest technology advancement. From famous poses that have created from a selfie was a duck face – pouting face with a less serious face, kissy face, “found light selfies”, brow game and many more. If you’re taking a a selfie with a group of friends, it’s now called a welfie. But that’s another story for now. 

Selfie, over the years, have made it easy for one to capture a picture of themselves but it caused a potentially unhealthy sign of mental health issues. Universiti Malaya consultant psychiatrist Assoc Prof Dr Rusdi Abd Rashid said the trend of taking selfies had yet to be classified as a chronic mental illness but it had reached a worrying level.

Images via Getty Images

Image via Getty Images

There’s even a correlation of narcissism and psychopathy that exist behind a selfie. The side effects of a selfie have become so bad that a study on a published paper that delves into “An Exploratory Study of ‘Selfitis’ and the Development of the Selfitis Behavious Scale’ created a Selfitis Behavior Scale (SBS). The SBS states that those who take at least six selfies and upload it on their social media accounts daily are classified under chronic selfitis (obsessive selfie-taking).

The study that was conducted by one of the researchers, Janarthanan Balakrishnan tells the New York Post, “typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors,”.

How dangerous is a selfie? 

From a harmless picture trend that turns out to be deathly. Now, putting aside the mental health issue behind a selfie, there are some people or famous figure worldwide who have risked their lives for a selfie and only resulted in deaths.

Image via The Rolling Stone

Image via The Rolling Stone

According to the researchers at the US National Library of Medicine, it was estimated that 259 people died while taking a dangerous selfie between the year 2011 and 2017. A dangerous selfie can be taken from atop of a skyscraper building, beside a dangerous animal or something that could potentially harm you. 
selfie 3
Famous Taiwanese mountaineer who is widely known by her fans as the ‘Bikini Hiker’ or her name as Gigi Wu, died from suspected hypothermia, after a fall in Nantou County. It took about 43 hours for the search and rescue team to reach Wu. By the time they found her, she had died.  She was known to take a selfie at dangerous spots while wearing only in her bikini. 

This string along with many other selfies related death. 

Viewer Discretion is Advised!!

India is one of world capital for selfie-related deaths. The selfie culture in India has taken the trend a little too far for some of them. Since March 2014, a total of 139 Indians have died taking selfies. There were reports of three men crushed to death by a speeding train as they were intending on taking selfies on the tracks in the Indian state of Karnataka. 

Authorities even took extra steps in identifying and declared 16 dangerous spots in Mumbai as “no-selfie zones”. One of its popular tourist spots like Marine Drive and Girgaum Chowpatty Beach.  

Sri Lanka is also known to be a dangerous spot for a selfie especially when it’s a country known for luscious mother nature and lunging death mountains. Just last year alone, a German woman fell to her death while attempting to take a selfie at the Horton Plains National Park. She was trying to capture her own picture on a 1,000-metre cliff called World’s End.

Famous Bull Run place in Spain, Pamplona has even taken an American man’s life when he stopped to take a selfie with a raging bull and ended up being gored in the neck by the bull. 

Travel bloggers who are a married couple even fell to their deaths at Yosemite while taking a selfie.

Another one was when a Malaysian student fell to his death in Taipei while taking selfies dressed as Spiderman.

Image via Fast Company

Image via Fast Company

About a total of fewer than 10 deaths been reported in Malaysia from a selfie-related death. Although this number is not as significantly high as India, it’s always good to ensure you have great memories while taking a selfie without risking your life.

There’s no harm in being a thrill seeker when it comes to taking a photo, but do it with the utmost level of cautiousness.

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