Smartphone users have been actively taking “selfies” since easy-to-access cameras were first built into smartphones. This has helped the art of selfies grow big time in our culture.
One of my favorite daily tasks—whether I am in my home town or traveling in other cities around the world—is to stop on the street and offer to take photos for selfie-takers everywhere. “Can I take that photo for you?” I ask as I walk by.
This, of course, drives my children, girlfriend and everyone else around me crazy, but it makes me feel good because I can connect with other human beings in a positive way each day.
That brings me to the issue at hand—a growing number of selfie takers are beginning to use so-called “selfie sticks,” which are small, expandable poles that include a smartphone mount and allow users to take their own selfies at a distance of more than just their arm’s length.
I am here to tell you, I absolutely hate the idea of selfie sticks.
They are impersonal and they remove one of the nicest public interactions that people can have today as they are taking selfies on public streets in crowds, in front of tourist stops, near national landmarks and on planes, buses, trains and everywhere else.
And I’m not the only one who stops to take photos for others.
All over, I see people helping each other in an “I’ll take a photo of you for you if you take a photo of me for me” gesture that makes me smile whenever I see people giving each other a hand. It’s a nice thing in a nation that is often torn apart by politics, race, income disparities and more.
Selfie sticks don’t bring people together. Instead, they keep them apart, and that’s not what we need in the world today.
We need more people saying “hello” as they walk by each other on a street. We need more people taking a caring moment out of their busy and harried days to help out another person by dropping what they are doing and taking a photo for them and connecting, even for just a moment.
A New York Times story on Jan. 4 described how selfie sticks are becoming more popular in Manhattan lately, and quoted one local souvenir store owner who said that the newfangled devices were good because “you don’t have to ask anyone for a favor to take your picture. And that’s very New York not to bother anyone.'”
I completely disagree.
I say we all need to help each other with selfies and share in the kind and friendly moments that can result from these quick human interactions. That’s a wonderful thing that technology can still help us share, if only for a momentary selfie.
So say “no” to the selfie stick and say “hi” to the person near you. And don’t forget to tell them to smile as you click the shutter.