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No-selfie zones: The need for instant validation can’t outweigh the desire to enjoy the moment

Shallow, toxic competitiveness online may lead others to take high-risk photos projecting themselves as intrepid and bold, with consequences.

editorials Updated: Jun 29, 2018 12:48 IST
Hindustan Times
selfies,no-selfie zone,Goa
(Getty Images/iStockphoto It seems like we have become a generation that is incapable of enjoying a holiday, a meal, a get-together or even a cup of coffee without posting it online)

The beach town of Digha in Bengal has banned selfies during high tide, attributing eight tourist deaths to the selfie phenomenon in the past month alone. This comes after similar incidents across the country placed India at the top spot with the most number of deaths by selfies — more than 128 between 2014 and 2018 — according to research conducted by the Carnegie Mellon University and the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi.

It seems like we have become a generation that is incapable of enjoying a holiday, a meal, a get-together or even a cup of coffee without posting it online, addicted to the validation that we (may or may not) receive.

Psychologists in the UK and the US have diagnosed those with an uncontrollable need to take seflies with ‘selfitis’, a mental illness. People who grew up in the 1990s may remember the time when families stood together for an annual photograph, captured by a professional photographer. A decade earlier, family members, particularly in small towns, visited photo studios on children’s birthdays to capture those life events for posterity. Now, easily accessible and moderately priced smartphones with unlimited cloud storage have everyone clicking photos, deleting bad takes and posting the best ones online, sometimes with fake dog ear filters.

Are we beginning to believe that if there’s no photographic evidence of a good day, it didn’t actually happen? Does our need for instant online validation outweigh our desire to enjoy the moment and the experience? The ‘no-selfie zones’ in Goa and now, the ban in Bengal, must give us a chance to reflect on this obsessive impulse that distracts us from immersing ourself in the moment and detracts from our ability to cherish it.

You don’t have to click a photograph of the sunset and post it online for you to enjoy the twilight. And you can like an experience without others liking your photographic evidence of it.

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 12:47 IST