By MICHAEL PERKINS
YOU CAN’T SAY IT’S JUST UNCOOL PEOPLE ANYMORE. In recent days (this being April 1st as you read this, and no joke), both the Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have joined the growing ranks of public attractions that have decided to prohibit the use of the selfie stick, that telescoping extender wand that stretches the human ego beyond all endurance. Now, the only proofs you will have that your wonderful personage graced a certain locale on a certain day will be (1) memory (2) the enjoyment of the moment, at the moment, and (3) all the other standard-issue, stretch-your-arm selfies you intend on inflicting on mass media in much the way that polluters truck their waste loads way out of town to dump them at remote sites.
If you infer that I am less than suicidal at this news, you infer mos’ correctly. Although you are technically taking a photograph when you use one of these annoying fishrods, you are certainly generating nothing of visual value. You are merely creating a disruptive warp in the travel-time continuum, crowbarring yourself into scenes to…what?….render them more relevant, since you decided to drop your divine butt into them like some kind of Where’s Waldo tribute? Suddenly, it’s not look at this beautiful cathedral. It’s now look at me in front of this beautiful cathedral. Instead of isn’t this an inspiring sunset, we get look at how inspired I was by this sunset.
I suppose, in the desperate cyber-playdate that social media has become, it was inevitable that the standard selfie, already the online equivalent of roadside litter, would have to metastasize into something even more self-absorbed, and so, on the seventh day, they created the stick, and they said, be fruitful and multiply. Only, you see, a line has been crossed. Your love affair with yourself is now prodding me in the butt, blocking my view, and annoying my mother (and believe me, no one wants that). In other words, your favorite social plaything (you) has become anti-social. And boring.
There is an amazing tradition, among photographers great and small, in the self-portrait. But put some study into it, rather than having it be a reflexive tic whenever you become bored with the rest of us. Approach it with some intent, some technique, or at least more forethought than it takes to flex one knuckle of your index finger. Of the loss of all thinks stick-like at concerts, Jacqueline Verdier, CEO of Selfie on a Stick, said the festivals were going too far and that the sticks can be used safely. “I think it’s really doing a bit of disservice to the attendees,” Verdier said. “They’re not going to be able to capture the same memories.”
Yeah, Jackie, true that. And they (and we) can do one helluva lot better in the memory department if we’ll just stretch our brains a bit. So go convert your product to a line of premium backscratchers.
Then you’ll at least be performing a public service.