The Great Selfie-Stick Ban Of 2015 Has Commenced

from the me-me-me dept

Selfies: they’re a thing now. Seriously, imagine yourself going back ten years in time and attempting to explain to a thirty-year-old professional that within a decade there would be a term in common usage for snapping off mini-monuments to narcissism with something called a smart-phone. Once that person was done trying to decipher what the hell you just said, he or she would likely dismiss it all completely and get to the business of asking how all the flying cars were working out for everyone. And that, dear friends, is exactly when you’d hit him with your selfie stick and really blow his mind.

Ah, yes, the selfie stick. It had to happen, of course, but if you don’t know what a selfie stick is, it’s a stick that you plant your phone on so that you can take an even better selfie. Science, is there nothing you cannot do?

If you extend it a tad further maybe the photo won’t show how dead we are inside…

In the interest of full disclosure, I own one of these wonder-wands because how could I possibly not? I’m not good at much in this crazy, mixed-up world, but I am great at narcissism. So, you can imagine my extreme, self-aggrandizing displeasure to learn that the great selfie stick ban of 2015 has apparently commenced with a whole list of public venues where I can’t bring my second favorite extendable twig.

The telescoping arms, meant to widen the angle, enabling selfie takers to incorporate landscapes and friends in their shots, have been deemed ‘hazardous’ at a growing number of museums, monuments and concert venues.

There is only one problem: selfie sticks take great, compelling photos. As obnoxious as the arms can be, we are going to miss these impossibly awesome shots. We are particularly aghast at the ban by art museums, whose purpose is to celebrate freedom of artistic expression.

The list of venues where the selfie stick has been banned includes, but is not limited to, the Palace of Versailles, The Smithsonian, most New York museums, the Colosseum, all the soccer stadiums of Brazil, and the Art Institute of my beloved hometown of Chicago.

Yes, we have a giant metal bean next to which homeless hungry people sleep. Chicago, folks…

Perhaps the most baffling venues on the list are the music venues, such as Wembley in the UK. The argument made for banning selfie sticks at concerts might sound good, until you think about it for two seconds.

“Selfies are a big part of the gig experience,” a spokesperson for the Wembley SSE Arena told NME. “The sticks might mean you are refused entry to the venue so our advice is don’t bring them and stick with the tried and tested use of an arm.”

If you actually break down this argument and test whether it’s good theory or not, and for some reason I’m going to do exactly that, the whole premise becomes immediately silly. Picture yourself at a concert some rows back from the stage. Now picture the jackass in front of you who refused to pass that joint back now turns around and sticks his phone-on-a-stick into the air and takes a quick selfie. Annoying, right? But now picture him doing all those same things, except he sticks his big fat arm up instead. An arm, mind you, that is several times the width of a selfie stick and one which can probably only extend far enough to get his phone directly in your line of sight, as opposed to a selfie stick which extends up further. That’s way more annoying, isn’t it?

Look, the selfie stick is a silly but wonderful little tool of narcissism and public venues that operate on any premise of learning or expression really shouldn’t be banning them. Free the selfie stick! Attica!

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Comments on “The Great Selfie-Stick Ban Of 2015 Has Commenced”

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TK says:

“Seriously, imagine yourself going back ten years in time and attempting to explain to a thirty-year-old professional that within a decade there would be a term in common usage for snapping off mini-monuments to narcissism with something called a smart-phone.”

I don’t think explaining a selfie to someone in 2005 would be that difficult, honestly. Where do you think most Myspace profile pics came from? Also self portraits have been a thing for thousands of years

LeeJS (profile) says:

I don't understand the problem here

When I was a lad we used to call these ‘group photographs’ and if we wanted one where we were both in it we would ask a passing stranger if they wouldn’t mind taking it.

Why has this innocent pastime suddenly been deemed ‘narcissism’ just because we now have a device that enables us to avoid bothering a random passer-by?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I don't understand the problem here

just because we now have a device that enables us to avoid bothering a random passer-by?

That is true so long as you do not consider poking the random passer-by with the non business end as they take a close look at the results to be bothering. (The denser the crowd, the more likely the pokes.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I don't understand the problem here

Because people take them in the most inappropriate places and take hundreds if not thousands of them for the sole purpose of doing so. They also upload them to public sites en masse with the underlying belief that their likeness is so totally awesome that the whole world would want to look at hundreds of copies of it on the biggest global billboard to have ever been invented.

I mean, a girl took a selfie at Auschwitz, for fsck’s sake. A group selfie happened in front of a deadly explosion at a New York apartment complex. What if people were taking duckfaces at 9/11 or the Cambodian Killing Fields? What if Abe Zapruder took a selfie at the JFK assassination? That’s what’s happening here. People are so deluded about their own unwarranted self-importance that they’re clogging the Internet with their annoying mugs at the most god-awful inappropriate times and/or places.

And now they have a stupid stick to make their displays of narcissism somehow “better.”

I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wrong...

I went to the Art Institute and started artistically expressing myself on “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” and someone with an attitude and an inflated sense of importance made me stop. (I work in urine. I’m a master.)

I thought they were there to encourage artistic expression. Troglodytes.

Karl (profile) says:

Some revealing sentences...

I can’t bring my second favorite extendable twig

So, you call your favorite “extendable” a twig? Doesn’t seem all that narcissistic to me.


But now picture him doing all those same things, except he sticks his big fat arm up instead.

Not to mention, the “selfie stick” almost certainly doesn’t smell like smoke, weed, and body odor. (Speaking as someone who has both suffered through, and caused, such odors.)

Anonymous Coward says:

the dark side of technology

Perhaps this is the dark side of technology. In the 20th century, when just about everyone had a Kodak Brownie or Instamatic or Pocket Camera (depending on the era), it was simple to ask a passing stranger to hold the camera and press the only button on it. Even with the arrival of SLRs in the 1970s, all brands and models were essentially identical in operation. So passing strangers could still quality (but only if they were male — females were still considered too technologically incompetent to understand mechanical gadgets).

But now in the digital age, the act of taking a photo is not only highly complicated, but varies tremendously across the range of camera-enabled devices, that random strangers can no longer be trusted to get it right.

That plus the fact that these days people have their entire life’s work on the gadget they’d be handing over to complete strangers to take their picture.

Anonymous Coward says:


Maybe there is another, darker, side to the banning of improved photo shoot opportunities contraptions in museums and at entertainment venues: The IP issue.
Some proud parent shot a video of his/her offspring dancing free style. Being a modern parent, the shot immediately had to go on YouTube, and that’s when the IP police suited up. See, dancing (normally) entails music and the hapless author had, undoubtedly with criminal intention of stealing someones ephemeral property, forgot to buy the required $10K license to broadcast said intangible property.
Now imagine museums, in the process of monetizing all that IP they hold in trust, being invaded by hordes of selfie fanatics armed with sticks that allow them to take incidental but unlicensed(!) pictures of all that IP and sharing it(!!) with the world via social media. For free(!!!). Sheer piracy.
Not to mention those poor struggling artists playing a gig at the local super stadium and having unlicensed photos taken of themselves performing. Photos and even (gasp) video. Outside the revenue channel. The very definition of piracy.
With literally thousands of photos littering the worlds servers, claiming exclusive rights just became an uphill battle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Crossing the streams

I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t already crutches which already incorporate a selfie mechanism.
Some kind of sliding rail so you don’t have to bend down and a button on the handle.
Perfect for those glamorous hospital gown shots while you tumble over trying to keep your balance.

I am somewhat against sticks in crowded places. While you almost have enough space to shuffle about, 10000 maniacs try to wield their unwieldy yardsticks over the heads of other people and possibly playing a whack-a-mole-selfie game.
As for the whole collapsible / telescoping baton thingy. “Oh it’s just a selfie stick”.

Chris Meadows (profile) says:

Selfie stick = modern-day mace

You know, in medieval times, a long stick with a weight on the end was called a “mace” and swung around to whap your enemies with. The angular momentum imparted by the length of the stick means the weight on the end can get up some pretty good speed and do some serious damage.

Ban such a thing in venues where lots of people might get crowded together and there’s some serious potential for doing harm by accident? Uh, yeah, let’s do that.

John85851 (profile) says:

In my day...

In my day (which was 4 years ago), we didn’t have selfie-sticks: we had tripods. I would put on in on a bench or in a tree, aim it at my wife, set the timer, run over to her, and then the camera would go off.
But the risk ask always been that someone will steal the camera or it’ll fall over or something else will ruin the shot.
Or you can hand your camera to a stranger and hope he doesn’t run off with your iPhone 6.

If we’re going to ban selfie-sticks because they’re less risky than handing your camera to a stranger, then we should ban selfies because they’re poor photos.

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