When you’re in an incredible destination with a view or a historical site you just have to capture in a photo, your first instinct may be to turn on your phone’s front facing camera and snap a selfie. But according to media reports, that may actually be dangerous.
So far in 2015, at least 12 people have been killed in selfie-related incidents and many more injured. Those numbers make selfies more deadly than shark attacks – eight people have died this year as a result of shark attacks.
Just this past September, a Japanese tourist died after allegedly slipping down the stairs while taking a selfie at India’s Taj Mahal monument. In a separate incident, a man was gored to death at the annual bull running festival in the Spanish town of Villaseca de la Sagra – he was trying to take a selfie with the animals when he was fatally injured. Other selfie-related deaths have been caused by distracted selfie-snappers crashing their cars, falling off cliffs, being hit by trains and even shooting themselves while posing with guns.
The selfie craze has actually gotten so dangerous that officials in Australia fenced off a 16-story-high rock that resembles a wedding cake. Apparently people wouldn’t stop taking photos on top of it, even though it poses the risk of collapsing at any time.
Australia isn’t alone – there have been many selfie-related incidents in Russia as well. In one incident, two men were killed in the Urals while taking a selfie holding a hand grenade with the pin pulled out. In another incident, a teenager died while climbing onto a railway bridge to snap a picture. The slew of selfies-gone-bad incidents led the Russia government to launch a campaign warning people about the dangers of taking selfies.
But what is it about taking selfies that can put your life at risk?
Research has found that men who post a lot of selfies score higher in traits of narcissism and psychopathy in online tests, although they are still in the healthy range. That suggests they may be more likely to focus on the personal gain in situations rather than potential danger. For example, the attention they may gain from posting a crazy selfie outweighs the consequences of their actions – they may not even consider potential consequences or dangers.
And then there’s the distraction factor. You already know how dangerous it is to look at your phone and take your eyes off the road while driving. The same rings true if you’re preoccupied looking at your phone trying to snap the perfect selfie.
When you’re looking at your phone, you’re not as in control of the complex actions like walking and running (especially from a mob of bulls) and you may not be able to notice something happening around you that may pose a risk to your well-being.
You’re faced with three different types of distractions when you’re looking at your phone: manual, visual and cognitive. You’re doing something else, you’re seeing something else and your mind is elsewhere, as opposed to focusing on your surroundings.
So what’s the moral of this selfie story? Proceed with caution. Seriously assess your surroundings before turning your phone camera on yourself. And, perhaps, put your camera away and simply take in the sights, and enjoy.
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