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By ‘Sola Fagorusi

Far from being a speculation, it has been reported that the number of people who have died while taking selfies exceeds those killed by injuries sustained from shark attacks thus far in 2015. In both instances, the victims are usually adventurous and daring. The accessibility of mobile phones however makes it easier to get on the list of deaths caused by taking of selfies.

selfiThe art of taking selfie has grown considerable. For the uninitiated, selfies are pictures of oneself taken through the use of smartphones with the intention of sharing on social media. Some however also take selfies with the webcams of their computer system. With the rise in the preference for selfies the market has equally responded by providing selfie sticks for purchase and use. It comes with a monopod and helps to take the phone out of arm’s length so that it can cover a larger surface area. Selfie sticks are however also allowing video content providers to act alone with any partner since they can handle the stick, press the buttons and get past the recording. A number of institutions, asides from having regulations on mobile phone use are also beginning to have regulation as it concerns selfie sticks. The regulations are usually about protection and safety of public spaces for other users. There are no indications that selfies are going to stop anytime soon especially not after The Time Magazine’s mention of it as one of the 25 best inventions of 2014. It does not only stop at that, there are now universities and colleges offering courses on selfies. The intentions are largely in two folds – to teach students how to take the perfect selfie and to also review the psychology behind the compulsive taking of selfie and acts like pouting and variant body posturing among other things that comes with the act. Such classes may also be hoping to review death cases related to selfies and possibly the place of selfie in globalization especially as it concerns issues of self-identity.self

Russian youths are peculiar in their craze for selfies. The country’s police have been compelled to responsibly intervene and launch a campaign urging teenagers to exercise restraint and caution in their taking of selfies. The country has had to even print leaflets and put up notices in public places to ensure that young people see it. ‘A cool selfie could cost you your life. A selfie with a weapon kills’, are some of the content in these campaign materials.  The details of death caused by selfie-taking young people are shocking. In 2014, a 17-year-old Russian amateur photographer climbed on a railway bridge in Saint Petersburg while taking a selfie. Unfortunately she lost her balance and fell to her death. In another instance, two young men died around the Ural Mountains while taking a selfie holding a hand grenade with the pin pulled out. It was only the mobile phone with the selfie already captured that survived the experience. There was also an incidence earlier this year in South Africa of a 21-year-old South African woman who died after falling from a hill in Johannesburg while her male companion was setting up a tripod for a selfie. In India, there is a recorded case of an Engineering student who died while taking selfies with his friends. The rock on which he was standing cracked and he fell 60 feet to his death. In another case, a 21-year-old Russian university graduate while trying to take a selfie with Moscow City financial district fell off the bridge and died. The Taj Mahal has also been a witness to death when a Japanese tourist fell down a staircase to his death while taking a selfie at the iconic building.

Russian leads as a responsive government. It has also offered video and advice to its young people to ensure that thy make healthy life choices. Discouraging the taking of selfies on rail tracks and on skyscrapers are some of the advisories coming from the government.

People are getting too engrossed with their use of mobile phones. It is not impossible to notice even policemen on duty fiddling with their phones and forgetting to be ready at all times! There are also cases of medical service provider who have also been sacked for taking sensitive selfies of with patients – some during the process of surgery and others after. Nigeria is not yet at this point; at least there are no statistics to show it, if peradventure there are instances. There is nevertheless a need to begin to add awareness about this into life skills being taught in schools and also in training curriculum for Sexual and Reproductive Health for young people. There is nothing wrong with taking a picture of oneself, but when it bothers on narcissism and it becomes too regular then it become a worrisome habit that needs to be put into check especially since the user becomes too self-absorbed and it becomes life threatening.

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SolaSola Fagorusi is a social entrepreneur and a prized freelance writer with a bias for youth and rural development. He started off as a youth staff with Action Health Incorporated in 2001. The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife alumnus currently manages the programmes ofOneLife Initiative, Nigeria. ‘Sola is a DESPLAY Africa (Africa’s foremost and most consistent annual youth democracy academy) fellow and has been on its faculty since 2011. Keenly interested in governance and pan-Africanism, he volunteers as online editor of YouthHub Africa; a cyber-community for young Africans involved in social change. He believes in the efficacy of oratory and writing as tools to drive developmental engagements. As a freelance writer, he spares time to pen thoughts on contemporary societal issues and is a weekly columnist with Nigeria’s most read daily ? Punch Newspaper. His training and capacity cuts across democracy and governance, leadership, micro-enterprise, ICT4D, SRH, value chains, development communication and policy issues. He tweets @SolaFagro and blogs at www.kadunaboy.com

 

 

 

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rotimi

Rotimi Olawale, co-founder of youthhubafrica.org is a youth development expert. For more than six years he has been involved in leading youth advocacy efforts mainly around the Millennium Development Goals. In 2006, he represented Nigeria as a youth ambassador at the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Summit held at the UN Headquarters in New York. Rotimi has held several global leadership positions including; member, UNFPA Global Youth Advisory Panel for 2 years; member, African Youth Panel. Rotimi is currently involved in shaping local, national and global policies to benefit youth and also leverage opportunities for young people. He was listed by the Nigerian government as one of 15 Nigerian youth on the world stage in 2008.
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