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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Sharks Don’t Bite, Selfies Do.

9 February 2016
In 2015, more people died from taking selfies than being mauled by a shark. Amy Picton explores the ‘me’ generation’s obsession with social media validation.

Selfie image 2

‘Selfies’ – those amateur photographs we take of ourselves, are spiralling out of control. Our generation is gambling with our lives for the sake of the ultimate selfie, resulting in 12 deaths in 2015. 12 deaths might not sound like much, but it is quite awful when you think about how real people are dying for the sake of an Instagram like.

I may sound insensitive, but what do people expect to happen when taking a selfie hanging from a bridge; in front of a train; posing with a loaded gun; and pulling the pin from a hand grenade? It seems all logic goes out the window. We become blind to the risk of impending death and can only see the reward of admiration from social media likes and comments. It comes as no surprise that you’re more likely to die from taking a selfie nowadays than from a shark attack.

When you think about these 12 individuals it is a bleak picture: a life gone for an attention grabbing snap, an Instagram 15 minutes of fame. Clearly we are taking the selfie obsession that step too far, I guess it is just human nature to push the boat out as far as we possibly can.

We may not all pose with a loaded gun but we are all guilty of taking one too many selfies, constantly checking Instagram, or trolling through Snapchat stories – after all, we live in a social media driven world.

So what is up with our self(ie)-obsessed generation? Are we really becoming that narcissistic that our inflated self-views are only confirmed from likes and comments on social media? The development of apps like Snapchat makes it almost impossible to get away from the temptation of making everything all about ourselves. Showing the world what we are having for dinner or our #OOTD would seem like a bizarre thing to do ten years ago. But today no one bats an eyelid at a Snapchat of Nando’s meals and girls with towels on their heads getting ready for a night out. I think I finally understand why we are branded as generation ‘me’.

What really grinds my gears is the word ‘goals’ commented over and over again on Instagram pictures. We are constantly looking to others for comparison and failing to find satisfaction in ourselves. I think this is why people are engaging in such dangerous selfies in an attempt to stand out from the crowd, to get one up on everyone else and be the pinnacle of admiration.

Worst of all, the narcissism stick (known more famously as the selfie stick) is often waved around in the most beautiful landmarks without observing what is in front of us with our eyes. Fundamentally it makes dangerous selfies more tempting and accessible.

Scarily we admire those who risk their lives for a selfie because they stand out from the vast universe of normal selfies we are exposed too each day. Social media sites will always be a competition for attention and is not worth your life, perhaps that is something too keep in mind the next time hanging off a bridge with a smart phone seems appealing.