Everywhere you look in Italy is a person hocking selfie sticks, squishy balls that splatter on the ground and then rebound, lights you can shoot in the air in the darkness, and roses. These individuals are relentless in their pursuit of selling cheap crap to unsuspecting tourists. Tourists who, not realizing the scam, happily hand over their Euros for these goods. Probably the worst, and most offensive, is the selfie stick.
While this little contraption has been around for a few years now, they are more prominent than ever. The streets of Italy are covered with tourists snapping photo after photo, oblivious to the fact that they stopped dead in the street or sidewalk. They impede traffic, not just on sidewalks, but in thoroughfares, and at attractions. Sticks wave wildly as they corral their group. Never mind your eyes or head, or the fact that they stomped on some poor person as a result of these sudden stops.
Selfie sticks are a nuisance. Thankfully, I was isolated from their prominence by living in a small town instead of a vacation destination. These contraptions are also a symptom of egotism. Early on a sunny evening in Florence, while crossing the Ponte Vecchio, Juston and I spied a woman taking a photo of herself with a selfie stick. No big deal: it’s everywhere here. We continue to the other side of the bridge to look at some shops and returned to the bridge center where a band trio set up to play show tunes in front of the bust of Benvenuto Cellini. The woman who was snapping selfies earlier was still shooting photos of herself in every position and expression possible some 25 minutes later. I’m surprised that the man with her wasn’t holding a fan and a light so she could do a proper photo shoot.
We watched in amazement as she tilted her head this way and that, occasionally raising a foot to bend her body backwards, all while contorting her face into different expressions. I don’t know how she didn’t use all the available space on her phone. It was beyond absurd, even if it was entertaining.
We’ve all heard the stories of people dying for that perfect selfie. Stepping into traffic, falling off bridges, or some other manor of odd death. I like to think of it as cleaning out the gene pool, but I am saddened for their family and friends that must deal with the after effects of this idocracy and vanity. These safety issues have led to many places banning selfie sticks. After traipsing around Italy, I fully support that decision.
Narcissism or self-importance is indeed something you see more of lately. People have forgotten that there is a whole world out there and we are each a small part of the grand scheme. For example, stopping dead in your tracks in the middle of the sidewalk or as you get off a train or exit a building with no thought to those behind you. Or running over someone so you can get that perfect selfie. I get it – you want the best photos of the places you’re visiting. Sometimes you feel bad asking someone to take a photo for you or when you do, the photo isn’t that great. Selfies in general don’t always get that “perfect” shot. But there is a fine line between taking a photo or two without being a self-absorbed jerk or a complete narcissist.
This happened so many times at so many places in Italy. Back to the woman on the Ponte Vecchio: with as many glamor shots she took of herself she missed listening to the band and the beautiful sights of Florence. I know that sounds harsh, but she was oblivious to her surroundings whilst snapping selfies. She cut people off and hogged prime real estate on the bridge so others couldn’t enjoy the view. It’s selfish. And do you really need 2,000 selfie shots from one spot on the bridge? Methinks not.
She inspired me to write a poem which I’ve lovingly entitled Selfie Sticks.
The next time you’re on vacation and you’re itchin’ to use that selfie stick just say no. I promise it won’t hurt you and nobody will die. You’ll still have great photos. You might even see things you would miss otherwise. And most of all, you won’t be a tool to your fellow humans.