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Take a selfie and be damned

  • Published at 12:02 am October 29th, 2016
  • Last updated at 11:51 am October 29th, 2016
Take a selfie and be damned

People across the world have started dying in a new way these days. Over the last few years, humans were seen facing unusual deaths while posing for selfies. Although the selfie has not yet been listed an official cause for death, the deaths related to selfies are on the rise. Taking a selfie, to my mind, has become a new hazard as far as people’s personal safety is concerned.

In Bangladesh, people -- especially some young persons -- were seen passing away while taking selfies. Some have died by falling off boats and into rivers; some have died in the sea while taking swimming selfies; some have fallen from train rooftops; a helicopter crashed while taking a selfie. There have been several such instances of selfie deaths in this country, proving that this selfie obsession has taken quite a toll on human lives here.

Recently, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, a man tried to take a selfie with a gigantic snake that bit him on his shoulder. The man was lucky to have survived. The most recent selfie-related death involved a man in Washington who shot himself in the face with a gun while taking a selfie.

People are applying bizarre ideas while taking selfies. For example, Diego Maradona’s wife had posted a bizarre selfie of Maradona getting a mud mask beauty treatment. The 58-year-old music icon Madonna got naked as a way of encouraging others to cast their votes in a campaign. The famous Kim Kardashian very often flaunts her body during her fashion selfies.

Some take selfies to demonstrate just to show how daring and courageous they are. For example, last year a pair of Russian soldiers combined the two by posing with a live grenade. The weapon unexpectedly detonated, killing both of them. But a phone survived to tell their story.

Selfies have become extremely popular in the new web culture across the world and people are going to extreme lengths to take pictures of themselves. And on several occasions, these extreme lengths are turning out to be fatal. In most cases, it has been observed that these tragedies took place due to falling from a high place or from a moving vehicle.

Selfies have become extremely popular in the new web culture across the world, and people are going to extreme lengths to take pictures of themselves. And on several occasions, these extreme lengths are turning out to be fatal

Some researchers have claimed that this selfie-mania is a mental disorder. An article by American Psychiatric Association has claimed that selfies are “selfitis” that means “the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media,” further defining three strands of “selfitis:” Borderline, acute, and chronic -- depending on the frequency with which individuals indulged. More and more researchers in many countries have begun serious investigation as to why people are getting obsessive about taking selfies.

The researchers could be right about the obsession with selfies as mental illness. If it wasn’t a form of illness, then why would people take selfies at a funeral ceremony or with a body of a deceased?

I’m pretty sure that taking a selfie with your dead father is certainly a form of mental disorder. Again, it doesn’t look OK to me when I see a man taking selfie sitting on a dead cow that he sacrificed during the recent Eid-ul-Azha.

However, my objective here today is not to talk about mental health, but about physical security of those who want to take selfies of themselves. It should be treated like any other safety measure such as road accidents and staying safe from any disease.

On the other hand, given the reality of today’s craze regarding taking selfies, it’s good to see that many countries have begun awareness campaigns as well as safety cautions to alert the selfie-snappers.

Being concerned about this cause of death, in the Indian state of Orissa, the local government has decided to identify and mark such risky places as “selfie danger points.”

They have already identified at least 20 tourist places in different districts as “selfie danger points.” The potentially dangerous locations among others include some waterfalls, towering hilltops, and water-bodies.

Death by drowning and road accidents are already the invisible epidemics in our country. We don’t need another cause for our people to die unnaturally.

First, the parents across Bangladesh should be alerted about the risks of being too crazy about selfies. On its part, the government may think about sending out cautionary notes to the members of the public in the mainstream media as well as on the social media.

Ekram Kabir is a fiction writer.

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