The Selfie Stick

The most controversial tech item of Christmas 2014 was the selfie stick, selling in droves but also causing consternation against the most hip and anti-hip of us (not telling which one we think you should be!) But surely we’re used to ‘selfies’ now, there’s no shame when taking a picture of yourself, by yourself, and posting it to the world in digital form. Whether it’s right that the selfie should exist in the first place, the selfie stick makes it that much easier to fit your whole self, or your whole party in. Two of our writers go head-to-head in deciding if this is a welcome addition to your tech collection, or should be banned for going too far in the name of vanity.

YES

by Emma Brady

I don’t own a selfie stick. No, I have a much more emotional attachment to them than the tangible. And I’m in the ‘yes’ column. I work in a buying office, and was completely ready to strike against them when I must have heard the phrase at least twelve times an hour. There was the deliberation of how well they’d sell, which seemed to be excruciating and unending. It was hard to tell if they’d be a success, but really, the capacity people have for vanity can be measured in miles. I was initially wary of it being just a new fad, the whole concept of the ‘selfie’ now does my head in, even the incorrect use of the term. It now appears to mean any picture with yourself in it. Erm, no. It hasn’t even been a word for that long, and I can tell you that’s the wrong definition. So to me, the term “selfie stick” originally appeared to be an apparatus to fit the body, the whole body, and nothing but the body into a frame. Easy conceitedness.

Have you ever been convinced you remember something from your childhood, only to be told by some evil psychological study that photographic evidence of your own life can be doctored, and photographs are therefore a feeble representation of real memories? Well, I have. We can be convinced by Photoshop we’ve been somewhere we haven’t, and also that we remember things we didn’t do. And genuine photographs can also weaken real memories. We know we all need to put our phones down for a while (see our new year resolutions blog) but really, photos are precious. They’re fun to look through, and I’d much rather have the picture of me and my ailing Grandad than not (although it was stickless, my mum was there to take it.) And the reality of the selfie stick is, I haven’t seen anyone take pictures of just themselves. It’s been crowded dinner tables, grinning faces, full of Christmas happy. They were all caught mid laugh, incredulous at this mad stick thing that’s taking a picture of them, but delighted all the same. Much like my family were when we first got Bop-It. But Bop-It just doesn’t fly any more, we love digital. The selfie stick enhances our beloved phones into better picture-taking vehicles: of ourselves yes, but most importantly our families and friends. Say cheese!

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NO

by Helen Johnson

The selfie stick oh how I hate thee.

In theory, I really shouldn’t. I’m quite partial to the odd selfie, even if it very often makes me look like a run over pancake. I, like many others, grew up with the MySpace generation where we honed our selfie degrees and learnt how to take the perfect “oh did the camera just take this? It wasn’t me…you can’t see my arm” photo. Somehow along the line we have evolved from arms, travel tripods, piles of books and a friend holding the camera to something else we have to carry that looks as though you are about to start a rendition of “Singing in the Rain”.

As a cosplayer, taking photographs comes with the hobby and I am already dreading the rise of the selfie stick at conventions this year. It is normal to be accidentally hit by swords, protruding shoulder pieces, huge hair – I don’t need something else to whack me across the head by an over excited Pikachu trying to get the “me in a crowd” picture. My poor wig can’t take it anymore.

Selfies are supposed to be quick, a snapshot of life. Their imperfection showcases the mood of the time. Yes, we may take a few to find the best angle, but there will be some that just make you laugh, such as only catching half your face when you are at a concert. Selfie sticks means you have to have a little forethought and the spontaneity has all but disappeared.

So put the stick down, take a few photos if you want but don’t live your life trying to get the best selfie. Enjoy the moment you are in through your eyes, rather than the eyes of Instagram.

Plus, a Japanese magazine from 1995 said it was one of the worst inventions of the year…I think that says it all…

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Are you a lover or hater of the selfie stick? Let us know on twitter!

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