So, yesterday was a nice, warm and sunny do (a rarity in Moscow), and I decided to enjoy it by taking a walk in one of my favorite parks, Tsaritsyno. While the park was gorgeous, lush, and full of green trees and ornate fountains, there was one problem. Every so often, my path would be obstructed by someone holding a long metal pole out in front of them in order to stare at their own face in a screen (as opposed to appreciating the views of the surrounding nature). This made me angry. So much so, that I became compelled postpone all other posts and dedicate my time to writing this rant instead. Therefore please enjoy!
First of all, to those who frequently use these elongated, metallic eyesores, I have one simple question. Why? Is it because you want a picture of yourself from a bit of a distance? Well, I've got some news for you because, believe it or not, you already have mechanisms built for extension. They're attached to your shoulders, are flexible, and can bend rather easily at the middle (unlike selfie sticks). In common language, they're referred to as 'arms.' And also, these 'arms' have something special attached at the end that is pretty good at gripping and holding things. These are called 'hands.' They're much easier to use and they cost nothing because, as crazy as it sounds, we're actually born with them.
But wait, let's say you want a picture of yourself that's just out of arm's reach. What then do you do? How about actually using your vocal cords and asking another human being to do it? Not only will you likely get a more level, balanced picture, but you'll also not be seen holding some bizarre metal pole as if you're ready to enter a jousting competition or fight off a horde of zombies. Plus, if gives you the chance to actually interact with another person, something so rare these days.
However, that said, the ultimate reason why I decided to write this is not because of the impracticality or irrationality of selfie sticks. The main reason was because everyone I came across that at the park that had one in hand happened to be transfixed upon the screen at the other end, as if they were in a state of hypnosis. They turned the pole this way and that, trying to get the best background image to show off to whoever checks their Instagram of whatever else they use.
It bothered me because this was the single focus of these selfie stick people. They were surrounded by this giant, beautiful park on a sunny day, yet they wanted to do was photograph themselves. It seemed that creating the image to make others think they were having a good time was more important than actually having a good time in reality.
And this didn't just happen today either. I have unfortunately come across many of these occurrences throughout my travels. Particularly in Milan, I remember, it literally felt as if Blake and I were the only two who were actually looking at the real city instead of making duck-faces into the screen at the end of the metallic rod. It was infuriating and ridiculously obstructive (usually people using these devices are completely oblivious of their surroundings and of other people. Hence views and pathways are often blocked.)
All that said, I have some advice for those of you planning a trip and considering buying one of these things. Don't do it. Take in the wonder of your new surroundings from a first-person point of view. You've probably seen the location on a screen already as you were planning the trip, so now see it with your eyes and interact with it. Live for you're own personal experience, not for the experience of the hypothetical person who may possibly scroll through your Instagram page. And if you really do want to take a picture of the surrounding area or of yourself (i.e. to send to family or to put on a travel blog), snap a quick one or two using your opposable thumbs, then put the phone/camera back into your pocket and appreciate your surroundings.
Finally, think about it this way. When you think back upon your trips, do you want all of your memories to be about taking selfies in front of monuments or do you want them to be of meeting interesting people, going to underground bars, climbing mountains and swimming in seas? Save your money and live in the moment.