There’s something about selfie sticks that makes me feel really gosh darn uncomfortable. A bit icky. Disconnected. You feel it too?
Until last weekend, I hadn’t been able to put my finger on exactly what it was about that innocuous extendable stick that made me feel so depressed. Sure, it’s a tool that feeds the vacuous and vain pass-time of taking 23 photos of oneself in order to find the most flattering angle, but it’s more than that. It’s something bigger.
What happened a couple of weeks ago that triggered the sudden realisation about why selfie sticks just don’t sit right with me? Well, my lovely fella – Chris – pointed out a couple standing in the middle of a street full of people, taking a selfie…
With a selfie stick.
In a street full of people.
There they were, angling to get both themselves in the shot and capture what was in the background. The result was an awkward minute while they took photo after photo, in pursuit of the ultimate shot.
After noticing this display of bizarre human behaviour, Chris commented on how ridiculous it was that instead of asking one of the many passer-bys to take (what would probably be a much better) photo of them, they were hell bent on doing it themselves. Why?
Why don’t we ask for help anymore? What happened to reaching out to a fellow human for a bit of assistance? If we are too scared to risk being rejected after asking for a quick photo to be taken, how can we ever expect to be brave enough to ask for help when life gets really shitty?
Feeling connected to other people is a deep human need.
It’s the gooey stuff that allows communities to form and binds people together, making us feel less alone. It’s oh so important for our mental health and overall well-being. And it’s the stuff that seems to be the first casualty of living in a big city, where it’s rare to have a courtyard, yet alone a whole block of land to spread out on.
The townhouse we live in is one of four on our block. I have spoken to two of my neighbours for a combined total of maybe five minutes (if I’m being generous) in the year we have lived there. I couldn’t tell you their names, or how they spend their spare time. I certainly don’t know when they are on holiday, so would never think to check on their place. Nor would they think to look in on ours.
There’s a glaring irony to be seen when country and city dwellers are compared: ask any land owner who their neighbours are and they will easily rattle off the names of everyone who lives in a 5km radius, plus will tell you where their kids go to school and how their crops are doing. Ask a city dweller the same question and you’ll likely get blank looks, shoulder shrugs and a non-committal answer like, ‘Oh, they’re a young couple. They work full time… I think.’
It really is a sad state of affairs, don’t you think?
All hope is not lost though! We can start turning our isolation back into being connected and we just need to take small steps at a time, inching our way back to our fellow humans.
Will your first step be asking someone to take a photo for you?