Selfie Shame

by Samantha Adler

Tis the age of the selfie. That iPhone front camera has created a world where the duck face is a coveted skill and Kim Kardashian is a bestselling author.

While it’s easy to lose patience with the selfie and its rule over your social media feeds, it’s not completely evil. A selfie can be the ultimate tool for a solo adventurer looking to document their travels. And no, you do not have narcissistic stockholm syndrome.

I’m admittedly a culprit of the selfie epidemic (hey, sometimes you can’t let a good hair-day slip by unnoticed). But, my real internal, ethical struggle lies with the selfie’s trusty sidekick: the selfie stick.

A tool used only for the most serious front-cam-glam, I didn’t think we’d ever become acquainted. But, when strolling down the aisles of the Target picking up supplies in preparation for my roadtrip, there it was on sale for $5.

Memories of New York City tourists huddled together, smiling creepily too hard, blocking the sidewalk with a metallic stick stretched out above them were seared into my brain, telling me to walk away if I wanted to maintain any sort of dignity. But, the humor of owning one was too good and I caved.

Tucked away in the corner of my ratty backpack, I forgot about the selfie stick until I was well into my roadtrip. I had left the familiar landscape of the Northeast and the cities along the way, and was now immersed into the vast landscape of the West. Here nature was grander, bigger and sprawling.

I snapped photos on my camera and a few on my phone, to send to family and friends. But as far as I stretched or jumped or climbed, I couldn’t capture the titanic landscapes and natural wonders. One of the most challenging to capture was the Grand Canyon. After trying to snap a photo of me with the canyon behind me, I was frustrated. The photos were 70% my sweaty face and 30% beautiful landscape.

Frustrated, annoyed and hot, I furiously wrestled through my bag for my water bottle when my hand hit something cold and metallic: the selfie stick. I pulled it out, slid my phone into the grip and connected the cord. Holding it close to me, I scanned the ledge for fellow judgmental hikers. I was safe to test this baby out.

Stretching out the metal pole, I lifted it up so the camera was well above my head and started clicking away. The grip wasn’t screwed in tight enough, the camera whirled upside down and swung its weight to the side.  I lost balance of the over extended metal rod and fell over. This tool I had mocked was now testing me.

I checked the photos I snapped before securing the grip. While I hadn’t figure out how to get the entirety of the pole out of the photo, it captured a large part of the landscape behind me. After several tries with happy results, I was giddy. I didn’t even wince when other hikers passed and giggled. With a handful of approved selfies on my camera roll, I set off the path grinning with my new selfie-stick-pal.

I had underestimated the usefulness of the stick. It proved to be a really helpful tool for documenting adventures that are bigger than an arm’s length. Go forth, adventure and selfie away.