Why I Hate Traveller’s Selfie Sticks!

India Taj Mahal Go Pro

The selfie stick phenomenon is an absolute curse on the travel world, a blight that should be banned until people learn some consideration, or at least gain some situational awareness and common sense!

Selfie sticks themselves have actually been around for quite a while now as useful camera accessories – albeit without the ridiculous moniker – and have been popular in Asia in particular for quite a few years. It is in the last year or two  however that they seem to have really exploded in popularity, to the point where they are starting to become an unofficial uniform for every blogger, backpacker and world traveller.

Selfie sticks are nothing special, they are essentially just extendable handles that attach to any given camera and allow the user to take self obsessed, gurning selfie shots beyond the range of their own arms. That’s it.

But I hate them!

Okay, to be fair it isn’t really the stick itself that I hate. At the end of the day it is just a piece of equipment, a simple accessory for a camera or smartphone, Nothing more, nothing less. And when used in the correct context – such as difficult positions on adventure activities where it wouldn’t be safe or practical to lean out with a camera – they can even be useful tools. I can accept that.

It’s not even the vacuous fad of the selfie I hate. Well, not really. Although to be fair I do rage on it quite a lot and I don’t understand the fad at all. I think it is weird, self obsessed and vain, and can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to see a picture of my grinning, ugly mug instead of the awesome scenery behind me. Myself included!

I know what I look like for crying out loud, I want to remember the thing I am taking the picture of!

But saying that, some people do like selfies and I suppose that’s fine too. They aren’t really harming anyone and who am I to say what people can and can’t enjoy? If selfies are what you are into, then knock yourself out, take as many pictures of your face as you like and enjoy. I don’t get it, but to each their own.

The one thing I hate about this ridiculous fad is the way they are used.

It isn’t the stick itself or even the reason people are using them. What is absolutely guaranteed to get on my nerves every single time is the self absorbed selfishness and the complete inconsiderate lack of manners that so many travellers exhibit as soon as one of these tools of unbridled narcissism is brandished.

I have had views of great live shows around the world, particularly in Asia, completely blocked by walls of these offensive accessories. I have seen people swing them around in crowded areas, the record button on their camera switched on and their tiny minds completely oblivious to anyone else around them. I have nearly been hit with a swinging camera on the end of a stick more times than I can count, actually been hit more than once and have seen others actually struck with them plenty of times too.

Accidentally I am assuming, but still.

I have seen swarms of travellers and tourists ruin everyone else’s chance of seeing or photographing a spectacular sunrise or a once in a lifetime visual experience without having cameras on sticks protruding into view.

I have even seen mindless idiots reach over the rails in zoos to practically shove their cameras as close to an animals face as possible! I saw one moron almost hit a panda with his stick by getting too close in Singapore before the staff could intervene, and another inconsiderate idiot mysteriously lost his stick – camera attached – to the water on the River Safari when he ignored many warnings to stop swinging it near my face.

Not that I am making any admission of guilt on that score for legal purposes.

tourist using a go pro and selfie stick in the Monkey Forest, Bali

And who really thinks it is a good idea to point a stick in a monkey’s face?

C’mon! Seriously!

These are just a few examples of mindless inconsiderate behaviour and believe me there are many more, but these are perfect to illustrate why these should be banned for sale to all travellers, tourists and bloggers, or at the very least require them all to take an IQ test and pass a manners and etiquette exam before being allowed to buy one!

Like most things in life it isn’t so much the object itself but the people using it that are the problem.

Just have some basic common sense and courtesy when using them, is that really too much to ask?

Despite the fact that many sports venues, tourist attractions and religious and cultural sites are starting to ban these selfie sticks, and with many more sites and events across the world starting to follow suit, we aren’t going to get rid of these ridiculous accessories any time soon. They have become as normalised as the smartphones they are usually attached to, and probably even the ego driven selfie craze itself.

Both are unfortunately here to stay. At least for the near future.

What I hope will happen is that tourists, travellers, backpackers and travel bloggers alike who use these sticks will start to develop a bit of common sense and basic decency, and practice just a little bit of ‘selfie stick awareness’ before they brandish them.

I hope that people just start to think a little, and realise that just because they have a selfie stick it doesn’t mean they are appropriate – or even needed – for every single situation. If you are climbing up the edge of a mountain and don’t want to lean out, fair enough. If you are skydiving and want to capture more in the shot than just your wind blown face, fine! But please, please realise that not every photograph or video requires the camera to be at the end of a damn stick!

Most of all I hope that people will be a little more thoughtful and understanding before they start to swing their selfie sticks around, and show a little bit of the consideration that I know many backpackers and travellers are more than capable of.

Maybe if they did that in the first place, bans wouldn’t be necessary.

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

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Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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22 comments on “Why I Hate Traveller’s Selfie Sticks!
  1. little jack says:

    In fairness, this isn’t restricted to the selfie stick. I remember watching the Water Puppet show in Hanoi, only to have my view blocked entirely by people holding up iPads to film the whole thing. I love my camera and I love photography but I hate this obsession tourists seem to have of seeing everything through a lens and not just living in the moment sometimes.

  2. zupher says:

    Yes…so true. I also sometimes wonder the same thing. It is okay if it is just one or two shot, but nope. Same face + same view + slightly micro-inches angle X 1000 clicks. I also have nothing against this stick but sometimes you don’t need to document every seconds of your life in visual 😛

    • Haha, well said Zupher! I wonder if there is any point in endless photos of you in any given place, if you don’t remember it yourself because you didn’t truly see or experience any of it because you were to busy staring into a lens? ;D

  3. jaimee says:

    I’m more annoyed by the selfie culture in general. The number of times I have seen people taking selfies in inappropriate places, with or without the stick, is mind-boggling. Nobody needs a photo of themselves in front of the Killing Tree at Choeung Ek Memorial or one of them riding a scooter while it is in motion. I swear common sense is dead. I do own a selfie stick but I have yet to actually use it.

  4. inmyshoestravel says:

    Wow what a rant! I hate selfie-sticks too. That’s because I’ve had one for years to take amazing GoPro photos, long before they were known as ‘selfie-stick’. Now I just look like one of the crazy selfie crowd, when that was never the purpose of having one for me!

    • Haha it was a bit of a rant! To be fair I did excuse the small percentage who use them appropriately from the rant! ;D For example I have known mountain climbers who have used them to take awesome shots where a normal camera may have been a bit risky. But now anywhere outside of situations like that, yes, you look like part of the fad selfie crowd. Sorry. ;D

  5. Tim says:

    Couldn’t agree more. They should stick those sticks somewhere else 🙂

  6. Gail says:

    Those things drive me bananas! I’m a pro photographer but you’ll never catch me buying one of those things — way too intrusive and obviously not necessary except on a GoPro.

    Is the world going backwards?? I remember my parents’ boring family albums of heads in front of scenery. Same shots over and over, just different heads. I thought modern photography was getting AWAY from that, not returning to it!

  7. I’m so pleased I did my big trip before selfie sticks were so common, as I never came across them. I do agree with some of the other comments though that I’m always amazed at people who film/photograph entire shows/concerts. Do they really go home and watch them??

    • I’ve done many trips and have slowly watched them become more and more of a phenomenon. Not to want to sound like an old man but I preferred things how they were before them! And I’m amazed at that too! I can understand wanting a reminder or souvenir, but what’s the point if you don’t get the full experience in the first place?

  8. Juan ferré says:

    I don´t really bother see people making selfies, what freak me out is people posting in facebook their selfies in a ridiculous ways and be proud of that! The human being was suposed to be inteligent, was they?

  9. Claudia says:

    Ban them sticks! I can’t stand them. What is wrong with asking passersby to take a picture?

  10. It seems that you have had a few too many unfortunate events with selfie sticks! I have never witnessed anyone being too obnoxious with their selfie sticks (yet), but I do own one for my GoPro and try to be as courteous as possible! I find that I get my best pictures using my selfie stick because people tend to like pictures that have someone (usually its the back of my head) in the picture. As for people using common sense to be more courteous or kind using them I think is just a wish. Unfortunately common sense is not that common!

    • Everyone who owns one always says that they try to be courteous! ;D All I can say is you’ve been REALLY fortunate not to have seen anyone being really obnoxious with them, I’m not alone in feeling this way either, there is a reason most places are starting to ban them now! Unfortunately I think you’re right, common sense really isn’t all that common, which is why I think these things should be banned!

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a former nurse turned published author and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent over twenty years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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