I've seen a transportable goldfish vendor (because apparently there is a market for spontaneous goldfish purchases). I've seen the Dog Pound burger store, which might seem reasonable enough, that is, until you learn that eating dogs is a popular pastime for intoxicated street dwellers (Maybe not so delicious then!). And I've watched with insane curiosity as pampered toddlers are fanned and fed by not one, not two, but three nannies whilst their 'mothers' powder their faces before taking copious selfies.
So if you were to ask me whether I have seen crazy lately … I would have to say "Have you been to the Philippines?" As their slogan says….It's more fun in the Philippines!
But if I was to talk about the craziest, most epic 'WHAT THE' moment I have witnessed whilst living abroad, then the winner, the absolute champion 'WHAT THE' moment would have to go to the selfie stick!
When I saw that stick several months ago, it was a revelation. Finally I knew the definition of CRAZY! What I saw that day, was equivalent to Tom Cruise couch jumping on Oprah and Britany Spears shaving her head and spearing someone with an umbrella. I saw hordes of young people compact themselves into a bizarre crescent, before raising a curious rod, that looked like an alien beam, high into the sky, before disturbingly craning their heads for the perfect 'Group selfie'.
As I said…CRAZY!!!
So let me begin by asking you whether you have met the selfie stick? I promise you, it is not rude. I'm not talking about some sexual device or even a cool futuristic pen that encompasses the ability to write, erase and glue objects together (though that would be cool, wouldn't it?). What I'm referring to is a stick which has one purpose, and one alone… to take self-portraits.
I mean honestly, how vain do we have to be as a society if we have resorted to designing and selling sticks to take photos of ourselves? Is attaining the perfect group selfie really the greatest dilemma of our times? Well no longer I suppose…because thankfully a stick has come to the rescue!
Selfies for me, selfies for you. Heck, selfies for everyone!
Why the Hate?
So you may be wondering why I seem to be exhibiting such rage towards the selfie stick. I'm not exactly foreign to selfie. I've done the occasional selfie following a hairdressing appointment. But as you girls will understand, good hair is few and far between. So documenting that perfect blow-dry or subtle yet perfect ombre graduation is simply crucial. And that I tell you cannot be denied!
But in all seriousness, the selfie stick terrifies me! And it's not because of its little go-go gadget arm, foam non-slip handle or its fancy Bluetooth controls which automatically take multiple wide angled photos. No! It's what the selfie stick represents…our obsession with self!
Me, Me, Me
In May last year, TIME magazine wrote an article on the Me, Me, Me generation, also known as the Millennials. Essentially this generation was described by the magazine as narcissistic, lazy, coddled and even a bit delusional.
What a glowing characterisation! Yet despite this, TIME magazine still believed that the Millennials, would 'save us all'! I was astounded! Save us all? How could they save us all? With their fancy selfie sticks?
Do they also brandish the ability to solve world hunger? Or wait…maybe it is a mystical stick used for transportation purposes or time travel? Tell me people, because I really need to know! What can the selfie stick do for humanity?
Can it educate us? Challenge us? Confront us? Well, maybe it can!! Maybe it can teach us, challenge us and confront us…about well US!!!!
Put down the Selfie Stick!
If the selfie stick can do anything for us today, then I have decided that it can do something far greater than take wide angle shots of Oscar nominated celebrities and duck faced teenagers with bad spray tans (though duck faced teenagers are a great mood elevator during times of self-pity I must say).
The selfie stick, in my opinion, represents the great desire to define one's self today! It symbolises that vast yearning to 'capture' one's self for the sole purposes of projecting an idealised version to the outside world. A version of ourselves that will be adored and admonished for our beauty or style or intrepid adventures.
Essentially the selfie stick, with its non-slip, foam handle, represents a tool that performs and captures what we seem to crave most…the perfect ME, the perfect YOU, the perfect US!
We want to be fun and quirky and artistic and adventurous and organic, gluten free vegans who others will look upon with great envy and desire and wonder. So after the selfie stick captures this perfect YOU, through a slightly edited and retro filtered photograph, it doesn't take long before we pursue the fastest Wi-Fi connection to instantly upload our AWESOMENESS for the whole world to see. We log onto our Facebook or Instagram accounts where we hope to receive numerous 'likes' and 'comments; validating who we are, and what we represent.
The selfie stick therefore has become the ultimate device for self-definition. But do not mistake this definition for one based on values or deeds or beliefs and attitudes. No this definition is one based on vanity and external approval. And sadly it is the one we seem to seek and value most today!
But thankfully God did not create the selfie stick (In fact, I regard it to be a satanically inspired invention hehe)! Rather he commanded us in 1 Samuel 16 verse 7 to look beyond mere appearances, and to look at the heart of man. Which simply translates into this … look beyond the outward appearance you fool, it's what's inside that matters most!
So in light of these very compelling points I would like to reaffirm that selfie sticks look ridiculous, just like those ghastly leg warmers from the 80s (thank you Olivia Newton John). Not only do group selfies distort our bodies, giving us giant bobble heads with tiny feet, but they also make us look like we are walking an invisible dog on a futuristic leash. And that I tell you is NOT cool!
I would like to propose that if one would like to maintain a regularly sized head and some semblance of credibility, then they should put the selfie-stick down!!!!!
Alison Barkley lives in Newcastle and is a post graduate student at Deakin University. Alison is serving in the Philippines with an aid organisation.
Alison Barkley's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/alison-barkley.html