From playgrounds to red carpets, selfies are everywhere these days. Unfortunately selfie etiquette hasn’t caught up with the trend yet, as evidenced by the student who recently tried to snap a picture of himself in the lap of a priceless 19th century statue — and broke its leg off in pursuit of an “extreme selfie”. I’d define that for you except that it just seems to be “an insane picture with my face in it so people can identify the body/law enforcement can locate me/I win parties”. (Side note: the part that bothered me most about Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons – sequel to The Da Vinci Code– wasn’t all the weird Catholic myths but the fact that all the main characters kept crawling all over famous ancient statues! It was brutal.)
But one moderately cuckoo dude with a Go Cam upped the extreme selfie standard to a new high (literally) with this:
Seriously, my palms are sweating just looking at this picture. The video version kinda made me want to vomit.
In case you don’t recognize this, never having seen it from the top down before, this guy is on top of the Christ the Redeemer statue that sits over Rio de Janeiro. I made the mistake of watching the panoramic video he took and my hands are still so sweaty they keep slipping off my keyboard. Immediately I had two thoughts: This is a Thing People Do?? I didn’t even know that Jesus was open to tourists. And second, that means someone (most likely more than one someone) had to be up that high to build the dang thing. Seeing as it was built in the 20’s, I’m guessing the workers didn’t take any selfies but man… eek.
Then, in reading about extreme selfies, I came across this Russian free climber (meaning he went up this thing, on the outside, with no ropes or harness) and almost fainted:
This kid sees cool selfie. I see some kid’s mom wetting herself. Even though I grew up rock climbing and even have a picture of me dangling 96 feet in the air, 20 feet from any wall, during a repel, I still can barely look at these.
It’s not just heights that are extreme though. The most recent controversy accessible to us regular not-crazy people are “extreme yoga selfies”. Celebrities and a slew of super models have been called on the carpet, er, mat, for posting pictures of themselves doing difficult yoga poses in weird places. But the most controversial of the bunch is Hilaria Baldwin (married to Alec, yes he married his yoga teacher). She recently started a #yogapostureoftheday campaign on Instagram where she shows how she works yoga into her daily life.
Some are a little… kooky. I mean, this can’t be comfortable and playing on train tracks is never a good idea (hope her kid wasn’t watching!). But being a girl who has done her fair share of headstands/handstands in bizarre places I certainly can’t point any fingers.
Others are just kind of silly:
Clearly she’s part way into putting together a crib?? I like how she’s holding her foot with one hand and the pliers with the other – regular toe nail clippers not working? Yank yer whole nail out!
But I really like this one:
She got slammed for it being dangerous but at worst she falls like 5 feet. And honestly I think this looks like art. I could see this in a museum somewhere. Or at least a coffee table book. The lines are interesting and there’s a cool contrast between hard and soft.
However, most people are complaining that not only do most extreme yoga selfies show poses that are too advanced/dangerous for most folks (and don’t include a #donttrythisathome) like Naomi Campbell here:
but really they’re bothered by the perceived narcissism and show-off behavior that is so counter to the normal non-competitive yoga vibe. “Is it possible that extreme yoga selfies are a sign of engaging in action for the sake of reward? (Look at me! Look at what I can do!),” writes one yogini who points out that yoga isn’t about getting a great shot, it’s about developing a lifetime practice for internal rewards, not likes on Instagram.
But nowhere is the topic more controversial in fitness circles than with the rising popularity of the “running selfie.”
You may remember the story from last month when Kelly Roberts made headlines when she snapped pictures of herself, along with a “hot guy” surreptitiously included in every frame, at every mile during the New York City half-marathon.
“I didn’t really train for this race because of the crazy winter we had, so live Instagraming was kind of a way to take my mind off the race,” Roberts explained. “And finding cuties/making myself laugh is the best distraction from the cold and exhaustion.”
As a runner myself I can definitely sympathize with needing creative ways to keep your feet moving. (And who doesn’t need more hot guys in their life?) But I’ve also tripped over more than one runner who has stopped suddenly to answer a phone or swerved in front of me while trying to find the perfect song on an iPod. And I’ll admit that the few times I’ve seen someone actually texting or Facebooking from their phone while running, I’ve feared for their safety as much as my own. (Anyone else worry when they see their friends posting status updates on Facebook every mile? I just want to comment POTHOLE!!)
Usually runners wait until after the finish line to snap their sweaty selfie and post it. But as Roberts’ stunt shows, running and tweeting (or Facebooking or Instagramming) is becoming more and more common and has reignited the debate about running while distracted.
Many races ban or strongly discourage all electronics on the course to avoid a pileup, like the one that happened during the 2013 Hong Kong Marathon when selfie-snappers caused “an influx of battered and bruised participants.”
Chris Weiller, vice president of media and public relations for New York Road Runners, the organization that put on the NYC Half that Roberts ran in commented, “First and foremost, the runner experience is really our priority, and safety’s a big part of that. We encourage all our runners to avoid distractions — headphones, mobile devices, those are all on-course distractions. We encourage you to be self-aware, not just for your safety, but for the safety of other runners.”
A 2013 Ohio State University study found that being distracted on a phone while walking or running caused over 2,000 ER visits in 2011. The researchers noted that the actual rate of injury is likely much higher as most people won’t go to the ER for more minor injuries and added that they expect that number to more than double by next year. It’s also bad for your running form. A 2014 Australian study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that people changed their gait when they were on their phone and it seriously affected their balance.
But official policies and science labs are one thing, bragging rights on Facebook are entirely another. Running a race is a huge accomplishment and part of the fun is getting to tell everyone you did it! I think that phones are here to stay so teaching people proper race etiquette might be more realistic than banning them all together. (I’d also add that while taking pictures of hot guys is funny and I doubt the men minded being called “hot”, it’s probably best to not take pictures of other people unawares. Could you imagine if a guy did this? Everyone would call him out as a creeper.)
Overall I tend to have a “live and let live” attitude about selfies – I’ve taken more than my fair share probably and I think they’re a fun way to express yourself. But I do hope that you find other ways to express yourself than going splat on the pavement. The one part of this trend I really dislike are the “extreme fitness selfies” which are 99% pictures of uber-lean girls in thongs showing their butts. It seems way more porn than fitness and not fun in the “look I did something really hard and cool” way. It also seems like all the “I just worked out” selfies involve a close-up shot of sweaty cleavage and/or running shoes. But hey, I like your shoes.
How do you feel about extreme selfies? Have they gotten out of hand? Have you ever seen someone snapping a selfie in the gym or during a race? Have you ever done it??
Proof I’m not immune to selfie-taking! This was from our trip this past weekend to Great Sand Dunes National Park. I call this my Ode to Never Tanning. And yes, I’m wearing a high-necked, hooded, long-sleeved, SPF 50+ shirt TO THE BEACH.