Get your Selfie Stick out of my face

selfie stick .jpg
People taking a Selfie, Image courtesy of TravGear

Today I am unapologetically spilling my thoughts on selfie related technology. Here I am, in third year Communications and Media Studies at University, writing an article on selfies. Right. I honestly never thought I’d be doing this.

Rather than discussing selfies implications on moral panics and so on, I’ll be touching on another node – the technological advancements due to selfie taking. I introduce to you, a hellish device that people like to whip out in packed public places… the Selfie Stick!

The Selfie Stick, an often despised piece of technology has shifted the way that individuals take their selfies. This simple piece of technology consists of a basic, yet functional design. It’s a metal extendable rod that is attached to a smartphone. The technology does not stop there! The age of taking selfies has raptured a new niche for manufacturers in this competitive market (yes, that’s right, Selfie Sticks now have their own market, expected to grow 26.05% during the period 2016-2020). What do you do when you are trying to sell in an oversaturated and competitive market? You differentiate. How so? Well, forget having to awkwardly lean in to hit the camera icon on your phone – these instruments now also offer Bluetooth connection to your smartphone. Simply press a button, then voila.

Let’s go back in time…Did you know that Japanese photographer developed an ‘extender stick’ in the 1980’s to capture photos while on a family holiday? The design was patented and released in 1983. However, the stick did not sell well. Kelly Berry explains why quite simply:

  1. Digital Compact cameras were not at a point of being lightweight enough to carry around on a stick.
  2. Society had not yet developed a sharing culture, which is now profound and enhanced with tools like the selfie stick.

In fact, in Berry’s paper Selfie Sticks: Transforming the Selfie, she states that the invention appeared in the book 101 Useless Japanese Inventions. 

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 5.16.08 pm.png
Screenshot from Kelly Berry’s paper, Selfie Stick: Transforming the Selfie, showing the inclusion of the ‘extender stick’ in a book of Useless Japanese Inventions.

Fast-forward 30 years and the Selfie Stick has transformed the way in which we take selfies. Berry suggests this as no longer are Selfie Sticks used just for a photograph, but also contribute to the act of taking the photograph.  The distance provided by selfie sticks between the camera and the subject makes it more difficult to tell whether the photo was taken by the subject, or the second party (Berry, p.13 2016), which is great for candid photos or group shots.

The selfie stick has advanced the ways that one can capture the perfect image. Sounds great in theory, right? Well in practice it’s a very different story. Selfie sticks have become such a nuisance that many places are actually banning the use of them.

Major Music Festivals Coachella and Lollapalooza have implemented a total ban on selfie sticks. London’s National Gallery have implemented a ban too, along with Disneyland. In case you were also wondering, they’ve also been banned from the Emmy’s, tennis and sporting events plus loads of other locations too.

They’re invasive, up in your face and waved around feverishly in the air like a streamer at a children’s birthday party. I personally am not a fan and have fallen victim to being caught off guard in the background of a Selfie Stick shot.

Furthermore, as if selfie sticks weren’t cringeworthy enough, there is now another shocking stick for selfies… the Belfie Stick. This is a stick for capturing butt photos. Still not clear enough? Here’s an excerpt from the official Belfie website:

With our bendable stick, you can position your back side without the need of a mirror and shoot the exact angle you are looking for.

Unsure as to whether the Belfie Stick is a joke and the reviews are sarcastic, I am surprised to discover that it’s actually all true. The Belfie Stick is actually a sold out piece of technology.

Moving on, over time the Selfie Stick has also become an element of satire. Actor Ben Stiller took the Selfie Stick to a whole new level by breaking a world record for the longest Selfie Stick ever made. Just take a look at this one hell of a monster.

Here’s what the selfie actually looked like, in case you were wondering.

Without a doubt, the Selfie Stick has evolved the way that one takes a selfie. From its inclusion in a book of useless inventions to transforming into growing market (and becoming a tourist’s essential tool in their photography kit), Selfie Sticks have boosted digital infrastructure. Once a novel idea to a full blown popular item of technology, the Selfie Stick adds to the culture of taking photos and sharing them. Go on, keep using your selfies sticks…just stop waving it in my face!

Main Sources: 

Berry, K., 2016, ‘Selfie Sticks: Transforming the Selfie’, viewed 9 March 2017, < http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/41058284/Kelly_Berry_Selfie_Stick_Transforming_the_Selfie_Academia.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1489386836&Signature=7fkvGy1ogeBrDY4Q0UOW5dezQcE%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DSelfie_Sticks_Transforming_the_Selfie.pdf >

PR, N 2017, ‘Global Selfie Stick Market, 2020: Market to Grow at a CAGR of 26.05% – Research and Markets’, PR Newswire US,  viewed 9 March 2017, < http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/eds/detail/detail?sid=c5a0033b-4c22-461b-b25c-ccd703b233b5%40sessionmgr101&vid=1&hid=108&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#AN=201701090810PR.NEWS.USPR.IO83093&db=bwh >

 

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