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Death by Selfie: Think Before You Click

File photo of a man taking selfie. (Reuters)

File photo of a man taking selfie. (Reuters)

Statutory warning that a selfie can turn into a self-die must be spread

A 35-year-old Delhi woman holidaying with her family plunged 500 feet to her death two days ago after slipping off a cliff while taking a selfie with her husband.

Earlier this week, another man died after falling off the Gokak waterfall in Karnataka while trying to take a selfie.

A month and a half ago, a man tried to take a selfie with a wounded bear and was mauled to death in Nabarangpur, Odisha.

These are not isolated instances of death by selfie in the last quarter alone. In the last seven years, one has heard and read of multiple cases in India and across the world. What’s this obsession to click and post which makes one undergo extreme risk without any care or fear?

There are a few reasons which have possibly made selfie so popular in the last decade:

- The compelling desire to be seen and appreciated by peers and everyone else in the digital world
- The pressure to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ – if she/he can do it, so can I.
- The lure of the final product being liked and shared online with the hope that it goes viral socially
- To show-off to others that you-have-been-there-and-done-that

The most common reasons for death by selfie are falling from a mountain, drowning and getting hit by a train. Statistics reveal most victims are young, below 40 years The craze for a selfie has become so obsessive that people are willing to trade the real experience of the place or the thrill of the activity for the sake of future ‘digital appreciation’.

Imagine missing the penalty shootout where Sunil Chhetri scores the tie-breaking goal because you were too busy trying to take a selfie with the football match in the backdrop. Or lose sight of a last-ball six by Virat Kohli in a hurry to include him behind you in the picture.

So is the case when you take a vacation or are in the midst of some thrill, adventure or action. Why sacrifice the moment for the future? Who the hell has seen the future? There may not even be a future if you are not careful.

Almost all present-day families have at least one member who is crazy about selfie and doesn’t want to lose a moment without planning the next one. The realization that a selfie can turn life-threatening either does not cross one’s mind or the thrill of the click-and-share prevents every other thought at that moment.

A selfie per se is not a bad thing. It has its advantages. For instance, the two possible ways to include everyone in the family in a picture, when there is no one else who can be requested to click, are a camera with self-timer or a selfie. Not everyone has a SLR/DSLR camera with timer, but most camera phones, especially smartphones come fitted with this feature.

It is the pursuit of a perfect selfie which sometimes turns fatal. And this is what we must be careful of. It’s time to start a movement to create awareness of the risks attached to a selfie and spread the message far and wide. A statutory warning that a selfie can turn into a self-die.

Selfie is not indulged by suicide-prone individuals. If one is aware of the risk attached, it can lead to self-restraint. No one wants to die clicking a selfie. The thought and fear of death should be top-of-mind before taking unnecessary risks.
first published:June 21, 2018, 18:55 IST