At some point in your life, everyone you know is alive. But eventually you’ll have a birthday party with one less attendee, as you start losing friends or family members to cancer, car accidents or old age. There are plenty of things in this world that want to kill you. So the notion that you’d risk your life for something as stupid as social media likes is disturbing. Yet more and more people are doing it–and paying the price.
A study undertaken by the National Institutes of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine has discovered that accidental selfie deaths–“selficides,” if you like–is on the rise. People attempting to capture the perfect Instagram selfie are drowning, falling off of cliffs, being struck by moving trains, accidentally shooting themselves, burning to death, being electrocuted, being mauled by dangerous animals and in at least one instance, being blown up by a car bomb.
In 2011, the first year that selfie-based deaths were reported in the media, there were three selficides. Last year there were 93. From 2011 to 2017 there were a total of 259. A 2016 study called “Predicting selfie-posting behavior on social networking sites: An extension of theory of planned behavior” found that women are more likely than men to take selfies. But unsurprisingly, the NIH study discovered that about 75% of selficides happen to men, as they tend to engage in more risky behavior. Furthermore, the problem is concentrated among the young.
If 259 deaths doesn’t sound like a lot–and that’s a worldwide figure–consider that those are only the ones that are chalked up to selfies. It’s safe to say family members might prefer to report that their loved one passed away in a car accident, omitting the bit where they were leaning out of the window with a smartphone. “Although our study has enlisted the largest number of selfie deaths and incidents [to] date,” the NIH study reads, “this is just the tip of [the] iceberg. Many cases are not reported. The limitation of our study was that we included news reports only in [the] English language.”
The sad conclusion of the study:
“No selfie zones” areas should be declared across tourist areas especially places such as water bodies, mountain peaks, and over tall buildings to decrease the incidence of selfie-related deaths.
A Darwinist might say we could harness the phenomenon of selficides to address our overpopulation problem. A Darwinist might say we ought leave unicycles, selfie sticks and free WiFi transponders on tall cliffs that overlook crocodile-filled ravines.