If You Don’t Have a Selfie Of It, Did It Really Happen?

Person sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean.
Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

When I first read the article BC Residents Taking More Outdoor Risks for Social Media Glory I had no idea that risky selfie taking behaviours resulted in fatalities and injuries. The article goes on to say that some of the risky behaviour that people engage in are (Pawliw, 2021, para. 10):

  • Getting too close to wildlife
  • Cliff diving
  • Hiking in restricted areas
  • Swimming in restricted areas
  • Staying beyond park or recreation site hours

There have been 259 reported selfie-related deaths between 2011 and 2017 (Hilda, 2019, para. 8). It brings up an interesting question as to what motivates us to take selfies, and why the risk factor is becoming so prominent.

Rookie Mistake or Professional Hazard

The modern day definition of a selfie is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website” (Bellis, 2020, para. 3). Anyone can, and probably has, taken a selfie. Some of the reasons that we take selfies include (Miles, 2019, para. 17):

  • Communication
  • Build self-esteem
  • Manage self image
  • Preserve memories/accomplishments
  • Develop personal brand

With these motivating factors in mind, it begins to shed some light on why the quest for the perfect selfie is so prevalent. For more high profile social media personalities (aka the professional), they have an image or brand to uphold. If their content is not exciting or aspirational they will not build their reputation. For the average person (aka the rookie), they get validation from the amount of likes and positive feedback they get from posting a great selfie.

When selfies are taken in more dangerous or precarious locations, the photographer is more focused on the shot instead of where their feet are, or how close they might be to the edge of a cliff or waterfall (Miles, 2019, para. 24). Whether you are a professional or an amateur, you are still human and subject to losing perspective of where you stand.

With the ubiquitous nature of social media, it makes it challenging to combat risky selfie behaviour. The desire for the most eye-catching or shocking selfie feeds the human need for “likes”.

The question remains, if you don’t have a selfie of it, did it really happen?

Facebook: One Wrong Foot Could Lead to Selfie Disaster https://bit.ly/3lwCVq4

Twitter: Selfie Deaths are on the Rise https://bit.ly/3lwCVq4


Bellis, M. (2020, January 3). Do you know who invented the selfie? ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/who-invented-the-selfie-1992418

Hilda, A. (2019, August 8). The selfie epidemic: A matter of likes and death. Unreserved. https://www.unreservedmedia.com/the-selfie-epidemic-a-matter-of-likes-and-death/

Miles, K. (2019, April 16). Cause of death: Selfie. Outside. https://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/news-analysis/selfie-deaths/

Pawliw, B. (2021, July 30). BC residents taking more outdoor risks for social media glory. My Prince George Now. https://www.myprincegeorgenow.com/145470/bc-residents-taking-more-outdoor-risks-for-social-media-glory/

4 thoughts on “If You Don’t Have a Selfie Of It, Did It Really Happen?

  1. Hi Linda,

    I am astonished by the number of death that have occurred. I have read that India has the highest numbers of selfie death in the world. It has also been reported that men account for approximately 72.5% of all selfie-related deaths reported in the USA, Pakistan, India, and Russia. http://bitly.ws/fVSt

    My view is everything in moderation, even selfies. Otherwise it becomes a competition, an unhealthy and potentially life-takening one.

    When people are not present enough to their environment, they need to take the picture to see what they missed. They forget that the experience was live, but choose to view the recording. What else are they missing in their lives?

    That is a very sad state of affairs.

    We can ask the question, What happens when trees fall in the forest? Do you have to be there to know that that has happened?

    Cheers, Meherbani Kaur

    • Hi Meherbani,

      I agree that there is definitely an element of competition when it comes to selfies. In regards to recording events instead of being present, I recall a picture of the crowd watching a royal wedding. There was an elderly woman watching the carriage go by, and everyone else had their phones up around her recording it instead of actually seeing it and being in the moment.

  2. Such an interesting topic. I think it is consistent with the theme that we’ve seen several times already in this course: the technology and the apps we use in social media bring us a combination of good and bad things. So for the folks who are smart enough to stay safe, they will live to enjoy some amazing photos that far exceed anything they would have had 20 or 25 years ago. But the ones who are reckless…those who step off into the Grand Canyon, or follow any of the dangerous “challenges” that make the rounds on social media…well, may they rest in peace.

  3. Hi Linda
    I was just watching a show on a teenage girl who fell off a building trying to take a selfie. How sad is that? I could not believe it. I continued to look up more articles and YouTube videos and there is way more incidents than I care to mention.
    After seeing all the stories, I went and talked to my kids about it. I never want to see that happen.

    Great post

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