Lilian Min
February 11, 2015 11:13 am

There are few words in the English language that inspire as much rage and “YAASS” in equal measure as “selfie.” Whether you consider selfies eye-roll worthy, addictively fun or as a legitimate art form though, you can’t totally escape the selfie culture. And now, it’s becoming harder than ever to ignore the selfie’s pervasive presence. Some selfie-takers are coming out of their personal bubble courtesy of the selfie stick.

Yes, the selfie stick, it gives us the ability to take photos beyond our mortal reach, but at what cost? These simple contraptions allow us to shoot from a flattering high angle and snap wider views (as well as avoid asking strangers for a photography assist), but because of their potential to damage art and disrupt other visitors, they’re being banned in some of America’s biggest museums.

There’s already been plenty of controversy around selfie sticks: South Korea recently started regulating the sale of selfie sticks, while international destinations like Versailles have signs straight up outlawing them. Like flash photography, selfie sticks extend your camera’s (in this case, your phone’s) reach out into the public sphere.

Does that mean you have to throw away your cherished selfie stick? No, but, in the interest of not accidentally destroying a priceless work of art and/or starting an international incident, we’re laying down some hard rules on selfie stick etiquette:

Don’t use selfie sticks in crowded, narrow places, especially indoors.

It’s tough enough to navigate the crowds at a popular museum like the Louvre or the Met even on a normal day. Now, add a bunch of pointy projectiles into the mix, and you’re well on your way to someone needing an eyepatch.

If you have to get your stick on, make sure the coast is clear all around you — not just of people, but also of things like, say, priceless works of art. Seriously though, people destroy paintings using just their limbs. Don’t court fate and huge fines just to show where you’ve been.

Selfie sticks won’t make difficult photos any less difficult.

Want to get a shot of your face against the gorgeous ocean view off of a sheer cliff? It wasn’t going to be easy or safe before you got a selfie stick, and just because you have one doesn’t mean it’s going to be any easier, and certainly won’t make it safer. If anything, holding onto and trying to maneuver a giant pole instead of watching your footing ensures disaster, and no one should be getting hurt in the name of a selfie.

Don’t use a selfie stick when your regular reach will do.

The use of a selfie stick is a lot more understandable if you’re on the Great Wall of China or safely situated at the top of a mountain trail and you want to show off not just the view, but the fact that you’re in the view. It’s way less understandable to use a selfie stick to take a photo in the middle of a moshing crowd at a festival or in front of the bathroom mirror. Before using a selfie stick, always ask yourself, “What exactly am I trying to show?” If you really want to lay out your entire bathroom layout in your photo, go ahead. If you’re really just trying to show off your eyebrows, you know what to do.

Accept that nobody will love your selfie stick as much as you do (even if they benefit from it).

All new technology is met with some pushback, but the selfie stick is a self-conscious product built on top of a self-conscious practice. Will your selfie stick shots look super fly? Of course. Will they shield you from outside judgment? Not a chance, especially if you ignore any of the rules of selfie stick etiquette. In the end, you’re going to do you; just don’t make it difficult for anyone else to do them.

(Image via Shutterstock and here.)

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