Watch where you #Selfie!

News outlets agree that this is the “Year of the Selfie” .  In 2014 it seems there are neither wrong times nor wrong places for people to capture those personalized, shareable moments. Ellen DeGeneres’ backstage selfie, said to be worth $1B dollars, was the highlight of this year’s Oscars. NFL players snap selfies during games. The President selfies, too, at events and with celebrities. He recently Instagramed a picture with the Vice President, the caption reading “Pals.”

With 1M+ posted each day, there is no doubt the #selfie phenomenon is now mainstream.

But is every time the right time for a #selfie?

Absolutely not, says the United States Parks Service, which is now urging people to stop taking pictures with wild animals. “We’ve had mobs of people that are actually rushing toward the bears trying to get a selfie photo,” a spokeswoman told the Reno Gazette-Journal. She urged visitors to consider safety and prudence, reminding them that bears are wild animals inclined to hunt (and not smile).

And while this advice may sound obvious, it’s not for many. A trend of people ignoring the circumstances surrounding how they capture selfies has emerged. A man is travelling the world taking selfies with sharks, hippos, and lions. In May, a couple plunged to their death in Portugal while snapping a selfie from the peak of a cliff.  Some states, including New York, have passed laws trying to reverse the behavior to no avail.

“Though the photos may be cute and the animals may look sweet and fluffy, they are dangerous wild animals capable of serious violence, and the public should not be permitted to come into such close contact with them.”  — Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, presenting her sponsored bill to New York State Legislature

So what does this mean for the #selfie and the culture? Perhaps only time (and tragedies) will tell.

Meghan Barquinero, MBA ’14


Considerations:

  • What about the #selfie phenomenon resonates and is it here to stay?
  • Do brands or social platforms have a responsibility to encourage smart behavior (e.g. “Please #selfie responsibly”)?

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