THE DEADLY SELFIE CRAZE

With three more youths killed, we must realise that the ‘selfie’ trend is getting out of hand
On Tuesday, three young men died on the railway tracks outside Bengaluru while ostensibly attempting to take selfies on a onrushing locomotive as the background. In the battle between a human or even three humans and a thousand-tonne locomotive, there can only be one winner. But this was not an isolated case, not even in Bengaluru.
A week earlier, a boy had drowned when he and his friends were taking selfies at a temple water-tank. And when you add up the cases from such incidents across the country, the numbers are stupefying. More than a hundred people, mostly young men, died trying to take selfies in and around railway tracks and trains. Earlier this year, in southern Bengal, five young men died trying to save one who was taking a selfie hanging off a railway door. If one does a web search for such cases in India, one finds cases across the country with an obvious bias towards railway hubs. There is not much the Indian Railways can do on this front other than possibly starting public service advertising warning people that taking selfies can be deadly.
One hopes that when high-speed trains start service, the tracks are access-controlled because if the selfie craze continues, until then the tracks will be a killing field. And the obsession with taking selfies with trains is not unique to India, it is there across the world and young people have died as well. However, it appears to be more pronounced in India for two seemingly separate reasons. First, is the easy and uncontrolled access to Indian Railways tracks. Second, however is more of a sociological phenomenon. With camera-equipped phones cheaper than ever before, this is the first generation of Indian youth who have grown up with easy and affordable access to a photography and videography device. Coupled with mobile phone companies, almost universally Chinese, which have extolled the virtue of the selfie with Bollywood stars and starlets and with the latest ‘selfiestan’ craze using software to ‘beautify’ selfies automatically, it has gone beyond a marketing tool to a problem of endemic proportions. In Chennai in July this year, 48 people were killed when gas cylinders burst after a fire at a bakery. Onloookers and local police claimed that many of the dead were busy taking selfies. While attributing all the deaths to this incident would be a bit of a stretch, this is likely the deadliest selfie event so far.
There is doubt that young people, particularly young men, do seek out adventure for an adrenaline high and to impress young women. This has been the case since time immemorial. And the ‘killer selfie’ of ‘killfie’ is the trend for this generation. But just like previous generations quit doing stupid things so as not kill themselves, similarly young people of this generation have to realise that risking death for a photo that a handful of people will see is downright stupid. The final death toll for selfie-related deaths in India in 2017 could well exceed an average of a death a day. At the same time, while promoting their latest selfie technology, mobile phone manufacturers should also run awareness campaigns through schools and colleges about staying safe while taking a selfie.
Source-Daily Pioneer

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