Are Selfies Jeopardizing Our Safety?

March 29, 2014  |  

A few weeks ago passengers at the Philadelphia International Airport mildly panicked when a flight headed to Fort Lauderdale dove nose first into a field off of the runway shortly after takeoff because of what reports said was a blown tire and possibly failed landing gear. Passengers slid down emergency evacuation slides, sprinted to safety, and proceeded to take selfies. Hannah Urden was one of the passengers whose first thought was to take to Twitter to document the danger she had just escaped while literally running from the smoking plane. You can view a portion of her vid here: ABC News.

I am beginning to seriously worry about society. I always wondered how people could post hundreds of pics from a night of partying and having fun, when they should be…well, partying and having fun instead of posing for their Instagram followers. So I can only imagine the type of disconnection someone needs to have to think about recording their life being compromised when they should be worried about their own safety.

It’s like our culture has developed a sick addiction to documenting every experience we encounter on a daily basis and I don’t know whether it’s to get more Instagram followers, be famous for a day, or to have the right to say, “I was there when…” We’re quicker to reach for our phones to hit the share button than to call 911. We’ll update millions of nameless, faceless followers that we survived a plane crash before we call our immediate families to say, “Hey, you know that plane I boarded that you see in pieces all over the news? Well I’m ok, Mom. Just thought you should know.”

I attended a free, concert last year that featured some pretty big name rap artists. No sooner than a friend of mine and I manipulated our way to the middle of the crowd, a fight broke out. Two men started cussing each other out over someone stepping on someone else’s blanket and soon the crowd was running in every direction as the men started swinging and trying to tackle each other to the ground. Our first instinct was to run. All I could think was that it was only a matter of time before the bullets started flying and I didn’t want to be the first victim to be hit by a stray. My only thought was to get to safety, not post to my timeline.

I think social media has created ways for us to develop connections with people we may have never encountered in a world pre-Facebook and Twitter. But some time ago it actually created a disconnect and people are observing life more than actually getting involved in it.  We’re starting to view each other as extras in our very own Truman Show whose lives we can turn off whenever we lose interest.

If we weren’t already numb to the madness in the world, now we want to share tragedy with the world, preferably through a Hefe filter. It’s like it wasn’t enough to ignore the kids that are beating the hell out of an elderly woman.  Now we want to be a bystander to record and share the beat down with all 377 of our followers and possibly place ourselves at risk for being the next victim.  And let’s not forget the famous #SelfieOlympics hashtag which featured people performing ridiculous and at times dangerous stunts with dreams of Twitter fame.

We need to get over the need to impress people with proof that “we were there”.  It’s as if soon as our phones came equipped with cameras we lost all common sense and compassion. “Likes” are not worth risking your life. Let’s leave the “selfies” to the safety of our own bathrooms and leave the high risk reporting to the journalists who are getting paid to cover tropical storms and race riots.

Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a  passion for helping  young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health.  She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about  everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.

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