“Selfies” are undeniably a product of my generation, which seemed to directly coincide with the rise in popularity of the beloved camera phone. As controversial as they have become, I find selfies to be great for multiple reasons. Not only are they taken at flattering angles (of our choosing, no less) and make us feel good about ourselves, but you don't have to bother anybody else to take a good photo of you. And now that front-facing cameras are a standard feature in our phones, there's hardly any guesswork involved in how a selfie will turn out; you can see it right there on the screen before you even snap the picture.
But as awesome as selfies can be, the concept is also narcissistic in nature, and still a somewhat silly concept that's easily mocked.
Despite growing up with selfies being the societal norm, I still find the act of raising the phone up above one’s head to “get a good angle” – especially in public – looks and feels incredibly awkward. Not only that, but most of the time you'll find that no matter how many selfies you take in various locations, the only thing you usually end up getting in the shot is your face. After all, your arms only extend so far.
So while you may have intended to post about your great day on the beach or how much fun you're having at the lively event you're at, when you try to fit your face in there with the scenery (as proof that you were totally there and everyone can see how much fun you're having) you generally don't end up getting a whole lot of background in there. The result usually ends up being an album or social media page full of pictures of very little aside from your face. And without captions there to assist, nobody would have any idea what you were even doing when the photo was taken.
Enter the "selfie stick". As if the act of taking a selfie couldn't get any more embarrassing, you now add an elongated stick into the equation that make it even more painfully obvious as to what you're doing. And I'll admit, the first time I heard that a “selfie stick” was a real thing, and not an April Fool’s joke as I had suspected, I was floored – people are actually using a stick for this now. This is a thing. Why?
It wasn't until a couple of my friends started using one that I finally started to understand why the selfie stick was actually an improvement over your average, run-of-the-mill selfie. With the added length of the stick, there's more background and more to see than just the person’s face. And with more area covered, it's easier to use the (generally speaking) higher quality rear-facing camera instead of the lower resolution front-facing one. The result: a higher quality selfie with a purpose other than making people look at your face. And although the act of using a selfie stick probably makes you look more narcissistic than ever (“Oh, could you move, please? I need more space for my selfie stick.”) I’m willing to argue that it actually takes away from the narcissism aspect, at least a little bit.
Don’t get me wrong. Using a selfie stick still looks ridiculous. It probably always will. They're also nothing short of a hazard if you're not careful with them, for both your phone and, perhaps more importantly, innocent bystanders. Then again, what isn't? But the message that I’m trying to convey is that the resulting photos that can be taken with selfie sticks are far more interesting than the selfies we take with our tiny Tyrannosaurus rex-like arms (in comparison), and because of that give it a little more value than I was initially willing to give it.