Dying for the Double Tap


Pete Souza

Do not try this at home.

Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, most of us see the usual: cute pictures of our friends, our family members’ kids, or special events. However, once in awhile, smack in the middle of our uncle’s politically charged post and our cousin’s thousandth picture of her toddler, we see a particular selfie that makes us react with a gasp, and a “What were they thinking?!”

According to USA Today, selfies in 2015 took 50% more lives than sharks did. In effort to look #trendy and #chic, people put themselves in ridiculously dangerous situations in order to take the “ultimate” selfie. For example, at this year’s Tour de France, spectators seeking selfies jumped on to the middle of the road while hundreds of cyclists barrelled towards them at speeds of 30 mph.

What’s sad is that these past few years has brought forth a plethora of similar stories: Russia is dealing with the problems of teens getting electrocuted taking selfies on top of railroad tracks, a man in Mexico shot himself taking a selfie with a gun, and the National Park System is struggling to grasp why someone would be so foolish as to take a selfie with a charging bison or a clearly aggressive bear.

Now, I’m not trying to go baby-boomer on you by saying that our generation is vain and self-absorbed by taking selfies: it’s a mostly harmless activity, and a great way to capture memories. But when people put themselves and others in danger in an effort to get a picture which garners the most likes on social media, that is extremely narcissistic and gives us innocent selfie-takers a bad name.

Selfies were originally meant to be a tool of self-expression, but there is a growing group of people who are obsessed with the addictive feeling associated with thumbs-up signs and heart-shaped emoticons. In fact, we are all guilty of that pressing need to share our selfies with hundreds of people online, but that need has pushed some to the extreme: risking their precious lives for a picture which someone will pause and ogle at for five, maybe six seconds, maximum.

“Likes are a quantifiable way of measuring popularity and these days it isn’t enough to just post a picture of yourself, because everyone is doing that,” says Jesse Fox from Ohio State University. “The more extreme it is, the more likely you are to stand out and get lots of likes and comments.”

Instagram and Facebook have connected millions of people in incredible ways and have fundamentally changed how we communicate with each other. It’s an amazing tool, but we have a duty to use the sites responsibility. Stopping the trend of extreme, life-threatening selfies begins with us.

Now go out there and take some safe selfies.