'Narcissistick' reads the caption of a cartoon featuring the device. Because people who use them are self-loving to the point of psychosis. 'Should you buy a selfie stick?' another asks. The answer is no unless you’ve 'given up on life' or 'are Japanese'. Because only idiots and targets of mild racism use them.
Selfie sticks: apparently it’s not just okay to deride them and their users. It’s your duty to disapprove of them.
Another cartoon shows two panels: one with a child flying a kite, marked '1990', next to a second panel, marked '2015', in which the child, in a similar pose, holds a selfie stick. Because, as I’m sure you’ve heard (or will hear) people say, 'the selfie stick represents everything that’s wrong with…' and then they’ll insert something like 'kids these days', 'the West' or 'technology'. Because, you know, a device that allows you to take a self-portrait with your camera or phone from further away than the length of your arms definitely beats unprecedented depression and anxiety in young people, capitalism or the billions of inventive and profitable ways our society has devised to take and maim human life.
On the surface it looks reasonable. Did these people really spend money on a device specifically designed to let them take pictures of themselves? How egotistical. How consumerist. But hold on, there, Noam Chomsky. Is the fact that for once you’ve managed to resist buying something to fill the gaping void at the centre of your sense of self worth (congrats, by the way), really a reason to judge this particular gimmicky toy?
I think not.
Selfie sticks are not metal-and-plastic extensions of rampant ego. They’re tools for taking a specific kind of picture. Here. Look at this. This is me at Sagrada Familia in Barcelona last week. I took this picture of me and the missus without a selfie stick.
Now here’s one my brother in law and his lady took with a selfie stick:
I know, right? How self-indulgent to want your whole head and part of your torso in a holiday snap? What is wrong with some people.
Making social or moral and spiritual judgements (don’t laugh, I’ve heard and read it done) about people based on using selfie sticks makes as much sense as judging people for using tripods. 'You bought that incredibly expensive stand, just to take a more stable picture? Ugh. How obsessive can you be?'
If you are one of the fools who has made that judgement, repent.
I’m not kidding. Repent.
You’ve taken your automatic discomfort with new technology or social change, dressed it up in moral or religious clothes and looked down on people who perhaps don’t have someone to go on holiday with them – someone to hold the camera at a decent distance while they pose.
You’ve taken your default tendency to sneer at something popular that excludes you and pretended it’s a problem. You’ve decided to judge people for wanting themselves in their pictures. You know, that thing that everybody from great artists to every amateur photographer in history has wanted. That their kids value. That they can look back on in their dotage.
Now, you may rightly ask: 'why don’t you have a selfie stick, then, genius?' And obviously the answer is because they look so abjectly ridiculous. I mean, come on. BUT THAT’S NO REASON TO BE MEAN ABOUT PEOPLE WHO USE THEM.
After all, haven’t they suffered enough?
So, next time you’re tempted to belittle someone pouting up at a mechanical phone-arm, stop. Get some perspective. Take a long look at yourself.
They have a device for that now.