The rise of the selfie stick

From disposable to digital, from reverse iPhone camera to selfie stick, technology evolves. We are living in a mixed era of lovers and haters of the newly formed (Asian originating) selfie stick, despite Time Out honouring it as the “Best Invention of 2014.” From traveling around Penang and Langkawi over the last week I have experienced an overwhelming amount of bizarre selfie stick usage, and I have even purchased one myself.

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So for starters, who likes the stick? It’s me, it’s the 80s and 90s kids. Old enough to own an iPhone, tech savvy enough to know how to operate a Go pro, and social media conscious enough to want to have one. The selfie stick allows you as the individual to capture a snapshot of your entire surroundings and pull a humorous face – knowing there will be no judgement from a random photographer snapping your pose. Essentially it’s like having a huge photo cloud camera follow you and your friends wherever you go, where the whole world is a photo opportunity. There are fewer photographic limits, enabling more experiences to be shared and viewed. Hence this snap of me parasailing with Tanja yesterday.

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But who hates it? It’s the 60s and 70s generation, it’s my parents. And why do they hate it? Because they like to be “off the grid,” independent and personal. The fear of George Orwells “big brother” theory coming to life, always watching and controlling them, drives them to hate such public, narcissistic and intrusive products. I do see what they are saying in the sense that perhaps there is no need to document and share so much of life (myself being a huge example) but they are failing to see the positives of the product. Their immediate association with excessive social media documentation creates negative associations with the product.

However mum, dad, it’s too late to hate. As I sat in the Jalan Alor street food market this week, gorging on £1 ginger chicken satay sticks, I was approached by many local selfie stick sellers. 20 rmb for a pole of your choice, in blue pink red or green. That’s around £4. Forget fake Gucci bags, see you later plastic Raybands, 2015 is the rise of the selfie stick. As technology and time evolve the selfie stick is now an everyday product, sold on the streets, and consumers need to start accepting that it’s here to stay.

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So whats the potential problems in Asia? Respect for culture and heritage. As noted in the KL daily paper last week, it is regarded as extremely rude and ignorant to use your selfie stick in front of mosques, temples, churches and any other religious areas. This is something these girls below obviously did not know.  The article highlights the battle between advancing technology and cultural heritage in Asia, the two don’t seem to mix.

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Like all things in life, if used in moderation and appropriately it can be beneficial. Parents – grow to love it because the uptake of the selfie stick (not just in Asia) is only going to grow. Kids, teens and probably myself – be aware of your surroundings when you do use it. Knock yourself out on holiday, when out with nature, extreme sports, at a festival, with your family, but not at a temple.

I have no doubts that in the future as Gopros continue to evolve, even more adventurous backpack, shoe and even facial cameras and selfie sticks will emerge. Videos will become larger and more detailed and focused than the human eye. People will watch more through the screen than through their own windows. But why hate it? Accept the selfie sick and use it correctly.

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