No extended invitation for selfie sticks

Image via Thinkstock

Music festivals deem photography tool narcissistic and unsafe

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. April 7, 2015

To Coachella and Lollapalooza, well done. Way to take a stand against the selfie stick—an abomination. In a world where we are so self-centred, snapping images of our daily features, our meals, and our mundane everyday tasks, it’s about time we sever the need to turn all the attention on us.

Music events like Coachella and Lollapalooza are the settings for memories (at least, you should try to limit your alcohol consumption so you can remember it). They’re grand spectacles, but they’re also events you have to share with thousands of other people. The concerts are not just for you, even though you’ve paid to attend and participate.

Perhaps selfie sticks have gotten a bad rap for being self-indulgent and the people using them are often seen as being inconsiderate. However, I believe the main problem with selfie sticks is the cultural acceptance of them. Many of us have accepted the fact that if you want to take a good picture of yourself, an extending stick with a little grip at the end is the apt tool to do it. First of all, you don’t need a good picture of yourself at a music festival or anything else. What good does a picture of your face and a blurry background do?

If you want to take pictures, capture candid moments, not contrived compositions. If you want a group picture, invite someone to help you take it. Most people are eager to help you capture a genuine moment between friends. More often than not it turns out better too. If you want a true memory of the event, you shouldn’t be taking pictures of yourself, you should be focussing the camera the other way, capturing your surroundings and the people around you. Or better yet, put the camera away for a bit and just savour the moment.

Admit it, it’s already bad enough that so many people are holding cameras and smartphones above their heads to record concert performances. There is no way to stop that. We have already sunk too deep into that realm to reverse the habit. But there is still time to keep selfie sticks out of our cultural norm. We don’t have to be slaves to our own narcissism. It’s time we use forward-facing products to enhance our experiences, not the kind that fish for compliments and are designed for bragging rights.

So lame it just might work

Screenshot from Saturday Night Live

How the stupidest technology can catch on

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Feb. 24, 2015

This is not a criticism of any individual or organization, but rather the designs that come from an embarrassing collective demand. I’m talking about technology such as the selfie stick. You know, the elongated pole that people use to take pictures of themselves. Honestly I don’t mind it, the same way I don’t mind someone wearing a fanny pack, or socks and sandals. We can all do whatever we want; however, I’m surprised that technology has gone from innovative to awkward.

I’m as comfortable implementing hashtags into my social media posts as I am making cold calls on the phone. There is just something about the action that I still can’t buy into. For lack of a better phrase, when I do use hashtags to further my social media reach, I feel like I’m trying too hard. I feel like I’m trying to show off in an audition, I feel like I’m trying to get the pretty girl to look at me, I feel like I’m knotting a bow tie for a business-casual kind of party. I feel lame.

I know I shouldn’t because it is just technology, and hell everyone is doing it. In fact, some might say I’m stupid for not using selfie sticks to take my pictures and hashtagging my photos #SelfieStick on Instagram. Even that sentence caused me to cringe a bit.

For a while, I watched as some “fortunate” individuals walked around town with Google Glass on their face. They did whatever they did, smiling and explaining what they were doing while they were doing it, and it was all fun and merriment. However, one day Google Glass’s popularity plummeted and now I rarely see it around. Perhaps it was because those who were wearing it were deemed “Glassholes” and that led to problematic interactions. Like Bluetooth earpieces, you cannot look cool wearing it while walking down the street because you just don’t need it. You look stupid, arrogant, and lazy.

Technology, tools, and metadata tags are useful in situations where they are actually necessary. In my mind, there needs to be a purpose for something to be “cool.” It’s not cool hashtagging every word in your Twitter post, even if it’s done ironically, because that post will ultimately affect nobody.

However, if you are expressing your opinion, offering insight, or promoting something of value, then hashtags are great because you give someone who is searching #Cupcakes a place for them to find cupcakes, recipes for cupcakes, or your opinion on a brand of cupcakes. If you are driving a car, Bluetooth is wonderful. If you want to get a group picture without excluding someone, selfie sticks are the grand solution. And if you have other friends with Google Glass, it would be awesome to interact through that wearable platform. However, people are using technology for reasons that are beyond me, and that is why so many of us consider them lame.