We all know the myth of Narcissus. A beautiful young man is lured to a lake where he notices his own reflection and falls in love with it. Unable to stop looking at himself, he drowns. Turns out the poor chap was the first recorded victim of a selfie.
Whether it’s while driving, next to a crocodile or atop a skyscraper, our penchant for outlandish selfie snaps is threatening more of our lives, more often. Australians who like being both in front of and behind the camera are playing a risky game, experts now warn.
It doesn’t matter what social media app you prefer or what phone you use – the selfie is synonymous with so much of what we share, and that’s without the rise of the dreaded “selfie stick”.
But a safety expert warns he’s seen the practice move into deadly territory where it’s impossible to “detect problems” around you while framing a selfie.
“I was on the beach looking up a nearby cliff to a lighthouse. You wouldn’t want to muck around on them but someone was,” managing director of expert safety firm Dohrmann Consulting, Ted Dohrmann, tells The New Daily.
“I am not joking, I looked up at people up on the cliffs and a tourist was standing at least a few metres beyond the fence line, taking a photo of themselves.
“Not only disobeying signs but people have jumped fences, they were getting photos of themselves and I could not believe the risk they were taking.”
In June a popular cliff selfie spot known as ‘Wedding Cake Rock’ in Sydney was shut down by the local council after people took their risky pictures a little too far.
In response to the reports, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) issued a warning about dangerous selfies via a spokesperson, who told The New Daily: “Indulging in risky behaviour may be excluded from some forms of insurance.
“Anyone considering undertaking any kind of risky or ‘adventure’ activity might find the Understanding Insurance website extremely helpful.”
Grenades and guns
The warnings come after two Russian kids blew themselves up posing with a live grenade, while a lady received a non-fatal wound after shooting herself in the head in a selfie.
Last year an Australian man in Peru set the internet alight when he stopped to take a selfie video on train tracks.
Little did he know that when the train buzzed past him, the driver’s foot would be hanging from the carriage and it would kick him in the face.
He posted the video to YouTube:
Safe selfies a struggle
Mr Dohrmann, who is a qualified ergonomist and engineer, said selfies are “a more complex task than someone else taking the photo for you”.
“You’re concentrating on trying to take a photo and your attention is not focused on balancing yourself or what’s around you,” he said.
“You’re going to struggle to detect problems coming from behind for example, whether it be a cliff or a crocodile. Whatever the problem is.
“When the problem occurs, you start to slip or get bitten, you’re less able to response quickly.”
Mr Dohrmann said he’d never seen such specific selfie safety guidelines like the example from Russia.
“It seems in the pursuit of a good photo and a good view, people will do the craziest things.”