Selfie-Inflicted Wounds

Late last year, The Mercury newspaper published an article about the dangers of taking selfies in precarious situations, and how this may put you at a higher risk of dying than being killed by a shark.

… what?

According to the article, many selfie-takers have fallen victim to their phone cameras by attempting to perform high-risk feats and consequently tumbling down stairs, falling off bridges and cliffs, even crashing their cars all in the pursuit of taking the perfect picture.

But is it really the act of holding out your iPhone and snapping a selfie with that perfect pout that is killing us? Is it our lack of spatial awareness while we alternate between our left and right sides? Or is our generation too preoccupied with vanity and social media fame to evaluate whether jumping on the tracks and playing chicken with a train, while we frantically click that ‘capture’ button, is a good idea or not?

In Romania, an 18-year-old woman was fatally electrocuted by a live wire after climbing atop a train in order to take a selfie.

An Indian man died whilst attempting to take a ‘daredevil’ selfie in front of an oncoming train.

But this isn’t a new thing. Trends and challenges that have gone viral on social media platforms have increasingly become the cause of tragic deaths across the world.

Remember the planking craze of 2011? The idea involved photographing yourself lying flat on your stomach in difficult and often dangerous situations. In May 2011, an Australian man plunged to his death from the balcony of his unit home after attempting to plank on the thin railing whilst intoxicated.

The more viral these trends become and more viewers they receive, the more tragedy will strike as people try and constantly one-up each other in a competition of who has the most Instagram likes or Twitter followers.

The death-by-selfie epidemic has reached such an incredible tipping point that the Russian government has released a poster warning of the dangers of taking selfies, including while holding a gun.

Yes, that’s right, people have been killed by attempting to take selfies with firearms and accidentally shooting themselves.

The most recent social media challenge, the ‘duct tape challenge’, has left Washington teenager Skylar Fish hospitalised. The challenge involves taping the participant to a chair with, you guessed it, duct-tape, and then filming their attempt at escape. For 14 year old Skylar, this challenge left him with serious head injuries, a brain aneurysm, and a shattered eye socket after he tripped and fell on a window frame.

Perhaps we should all take a moment or two to ensure our lives are not being endangered before opening that front-facing camera, and evaluate whether social media fame is worth the price of our lives.


Mateesha currently has 272 Instagram followers, 325 tumblr followers, and 329 Facebook friends. Her greatest social media achievement was a retweet by Ellen DeGeneres in 2010.


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