IF SHARKS don’t kill you, a selfie surely can. More Indians are now at risk of dying while taking a selfie than being killed by a shark. The statistical probability is based on the fact that at least 13 Indians died while taking selfies in 2015 compared to eight fatalities in shark attacks around the world.
The year saw people in search of the perfect photo, snuffng out lives jumping in front of a speeding train, falling off a cliff, daring the waves or cozying up to loaded guns. Yet, far from developing a sense of caution based on past follies, 2016 seems to have only quickened the pace of stupidity.
At least six have already lost their lives in the country this year in various selfie- related deaths. The count began in Mumbai last month with an 18- yearold girl who tried to click a selfie on top of a rock being swept away by a high tide near Bandstand in Mumbai. A man who tried to save the girl too lost his life. But what drives people to put their lives at stake in search of that perfect background? THE GAZE CRAZE The answer is this: The photo can lead us into the homes of many whom we don’t even know. " Selfies boost our self image,” says Dr.
Preeti Singh, Senior Consultant, Clinical Psychologist at Paras Hospitals.
“ You get likes from people who dont even matter to us in real life and you feel on the top of the world. It gives you a false sense of gratification,” she says.
“ The temptation that so many random people out there will check out your picture is powerful enough to tide over any potential risks involved,” says Singh. Add to this the possibility of your picture getting shared on so many social media platforms.
It is a combination of all these factors that makes selfies such a craze.
Such self- absorption can be dangerous, as it can make one oblivious to one’s surroundings.
“ One of the symptoms of a selfie- addict is that it makes you lose context to its obvious consequences,” says social scientist Shiv Visvanathan.
“ If you try to take a selfie in a zoo cage, for instance, tragedies are bound to happen. But, that is not going to stop anyone,” says Visvanathan indicating that the risks involved are hardly a deterrent in the face of prospective social media limelight. Because those who come out alive are feted with “ likes” for their daredevil acts fuelling a desire for more such stunts.
“ In a country where the Prime Minister himself is a selfie freak, no one’s going to discourage,” says Visvanathan.
According to Dr. Rachna K Singh, Head of Psychology and Holistic Medicine at the Gurgaon- based Artemis Hospital, craze for selfies points towards a larger societal change in the country.
“ I think over the last five years, there has been a huge societal Even the world’s most tourist- friendly destination, Disney Land ( left), has woken up to the menace of selfies, with the American theme park introducing a blanket ban on selfie sticks, last year, in all its parks.