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The Press – News Column Apr 14

Selfie Sticks are Narciss-Sticks

Oh goodie, I hear you say. It’s just what we need. Another all-consuming, self-obsessing piece of high-tech wizardy to add to our ever-increasing midden of need-it-now devices. Yes, the Apple Watch has gone on sale, so not only can the pedestrians of the world aimlessly meander down the street and through the shopping mall while ogling their smartphone, but now they can also stare wondrously at their wrist. But no high-tech toy, no matter how annoying or distracting, can hold a torch to the selfie stick, the hottest Christmas seller, in the public infuriation stakes.  The very name of these gizmos is only marginally less grating than their shameless physical intrusion.  Once upon time, photography focused on the scene before you.  In selfieland, you are the scene with a personal proboscis measuring 44 inches, to protrude into the air, for enhanced adulation of your finely-tuned profile pose and pout. But was ever a tool so deftly produced to take out an eye of an unsuspecting passer-by? Of course, if you are inadvertently assaulted by a narsiss-stick, the pain is compounded from the stick-wielder suddenly marvelling at your actual existence.  I’ve decided the most unedifying form of obituary would have to be death by selfie. Sadly, that reality is dawning, with the Colorado plane crash in February, caused by a selfie-taking pilot. When it comes to travel, the great irony is that traditionally most people took a holiday to escape their daily bubble. Yet selfie-sticks create a formidable bubble-like way of seeing the world, stripping away the human touch of interaction. Recently while walking down Rolleston Ave, I noticed a young Scandinavian tourist trying to take a selfie-stick shot of her cascading blonde locks in front of the Arts Centre. I stopped and enquired whether she’d like me to take her photo. Judging by the horrified look on her face, you’d think I had invited her to pat my pet ferret.  Selfie stick sales continue with fiendish abandon, but the global backlash is rising, with an ever-galloping number of venues  prohibiting these wands of narcissism from their premises.  It was the European museums that recently led the charge; the Louvre was  gravely concerned that the likes of Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo could be gouged by these intrusive rods, while elsewhere across the Continent,  Van Gogh was at risk of accidentally losing another ear. Now, many art galleries, sports venues and music festivals are following suit. I’ve just arrived in Turkey for the ANZAC Centenary, to some very reassuring news.  Selfie-sticks are banned at Gallipoli.

Mike’s weekly current affairs column. First published in The Press newspaper and on Stuff.co.nz

 

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