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In defense of the selfie stick
My name is Rae Votta, and I am in love with my selfie stick.
My name is Rae Votta, and I am in love with my selfie stick.
Selfie sticks, also known as monopods, were one of the hottest gifts of the 2014 holidays, unbeknownst to me. Dads were acquiring them in droves and immediately posting adorable photos. Everyone was writing mocking tweets and essays about their omnipresence. They’ve even already faced persecution in South Korea for their unregulated electromagnetic waves. And I unwrapped one on Christmas Eve.
They’re not new by any means; they dotted the landscape at last year’s VidCon, and conceptually, the monopod dates back as far as the 1920s. But here’s a little secret: Once you get a modern selfie stick, your life changes.
You may be scoffing at them now, wondering what sort of vain and dorky person wants to put their phone on a Bluetooth-enabled rod to snap pictures, but the moment you’ve got one in your hands, you understand. Don’t pretend you don’t take pictures of yourself. Don’t pretend you don’t take several shots at once to try and get the right angle. Aren’t we all sick of pedestrian limits of our own arm span? With a selfie stick, you can expand your creative world.
My selfie stick was a gift from a close friend who knows me too well and knows that I’ve been on a quest to improve my vlogging skills since I started covering the YouTube community for the Daily Dot. He followed my own gift guide and got me the most basic tool I’d need to increase my abilities. The moment I set up the Wi-Fi and attached my iPhone, I immediately snapped 17 shots in quick succession. We were at Universal Citywalk, bastion of tourists, and I started wandering around taking shots, switching to video and getting cool steadicam-style spinning moments. My friend may have rolled his eyes at me a bunch, but our walk back to the metro became a content adventure, instead of just a dull downhill trot.
Then I went to Hawaii, and took my selfie stick to the beach to capture perfect, nonchalant holiday snaps. Travel is the natural habitat of the selfie stick, combining the need to document your jealousy-inducing adventures with a lack of trust in the people around you whom you can hand your phone over to for a snap. The selfie stick solves this very real problem, and it’s fun to boot. Every time I saw another vacationer pulling out their own selfie stick I gave a nod, a moment of solidarity among innovators. No longer did I have to disrupt my friend’s nap to get her to take a picture of me fit for Instagram. I leapt into the ocean and shot a twirling video, then sent it to the friend who gave me the gift of a selfie stick life.
“Now I know how Dr. Frankenstein felt,” he replied.
To be sure, there are a few downsides to the current selfie stick design. First, the stick can only get so compact. If I want to take my selfie stick out for an adventure, I need to plan a particular purse to take, because otherwise it pokes out and looks like I brought some kind of fishing rod with me. For guys I assume this is even more problematic. (Is that a selfie stick in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?)
Second, some people are too lazy and leave the stick in their photos. I cannot stress enough that the whole point of a selfie stick is not to look like you’re using a selfie stick. You’re supposed to craft an effortless photo or a super-implausible one, but either way the actual stick should not feature in the photo. All it takes is some slight repositioning.
Finally, yes, you look like a tourist. Currently, holding one out and posing for a photo in a public place is like screaming, “I am wearing a money belt with my passport and 100 dollars strapped to my stomach!” However, once the selfie stick tipping point is reached and everyone is using one, you won’t be able to differentiate the out-of-towners from your neighbors. There’s really no way to look inconspicuous with a selfie stick in hand, but to that worry I say embrace your newfound self-portrait glory. Revel in the fact that you’re Facebook photos are going to be way better than that of your stick-less peers.
Sure, I’ve slowed down a little on my selfie stick use post-vacation. I haven’t taken it out for concerts or visits to friends’ houses, but it’s only a matter of time. I, for one, can’t wait until the bright future when selfie sticks are embedded in our arms à la Inspector Gadget for ease of use. There is no turning back from the selfie stick, and once it touches your camera, you too will see the light. Selfies aren’t going anywhere, and the next logical step is ways to make our selfies better. For now, that comes in the form of a retractable pole that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without. Viva la selfie stick.
Photos via Rae Votta (C) used with permission | Ravi/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed
A former YouTube reporter for the Daily Dot, Rae Votta has more than a decade of experience in the digital and entertainment industries. Her work has appeared on AOL, Huffington Post, Out Magazine, Logo, VH1, Current TV, Billboard, and NYMag. She joined Netflix in 2016.