Say Cheese!

macaca-nigra-536991_640On April 27, 1981, John Eric Hastrick was visiting the Grand Canyon. In an effort to get the perfect picture to commemorate his time there, Hastrick climbed over the rock wall intended to keep tourists from venturing too close to the edge. He turned his back to the canyon and focused on his camera, continued backing up while trying to frame his shot. He soon lost his footing and plunged 330 feet to his death.

In their 2001 book Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon, Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers document this and numerous other instances of people who met their demise while posing for photographs from the rim. According to their records, roughly 20% of those who died from a fall at the National Park did so during the act of photography. In trying to get just the right shot, they ignored safety warnings, crossed barriers, and put themselves into precarious positions.

Although self-portraits date back to the early days of photography, the term “selfie” didn’t appear until 2004. Once the iPhone 4 debuted in 2010 with a front facing camera, the trend took off. Soon people were posting ever more elaborate selfies. To be noteworthy these days, you have to be doing something interesting in an interesting place; a trend that often leads to disastrous results. And the selfie trend has only increased as new tools and smartphone apps provide new ways to frame ourselves.

A recent study published by the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care cites death by selfie as a growing concern. Self-absorbed individuals have died in increasingly bizarre ways while chasing their next selfie. People have been hit by trains, drowned, run over by cars, and, just like John Eric Hastrick, fallen from significant heights – all while focused on themselves as opposed to what’s going on around them. This led the authors of the study to suggest we establish “no-selfie zones” at potentially dangerous tourist locations to protect individuals from harming themselves in this way.

Do you have a no-selfie zone?

What’s the focus of your day… yourself, or others?

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own agendas. We worry about what makes us comfortable or happy. We fret about who likes us or recognizes our work. We spend our days in selfie mode when all around us are opportunities to do something more worthwhile. We could serve others. Yet we lose sight of the good we could be doing and instead chase after the next selfie moment – the next chance to satisfy our own egos.

What if we declared our own no-selfie zones? What if we decided to focus our attention on those around us who really deserve it?

Our customers.

Our coworkers.

Our team members.

Taking a selfie is not inherently a bad thing. I’ve been known to pose for one or two myself; but to be honest, I’m really not that interesting. Many of my fondest memories involve focusing on someone else; helping them. It’s my acts of service that actually frame me the best. It’s then that I’m shown in the best possible light. My proudest moments are those in which I’m able to assist a customer or a member of my team in accomplishing their goals. Those are memories worthy of a picture.