After 19 related deaths in India, Mumbai bans selfies in key areas

by: John DyeFebruary 25, 2016
1.5K

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An interesting craze is catching like wildfire among the India’s youth. It’s not quite as puzzling as the “planking” fad that swept through the western world in 2011, but it is proving to be just as unexpectedly dangerous. Since 2014, at least 49 deaths have been linked to selfies, but a disproportionate 19 of these deaths have occurred in India, where a trend the press is calling “Selfie Fever” is running rampant. In response to this phenomenon, Mumbai has ordered that it will be illegal to take selfies in 16 particularly at-risk zones throughout the city.

The Guardian is citing the source of India’s selfie problem as “a thirst for social media self-aggrandisement” that’s fueled by such things as newspaper coverage of celebrity selfies and a competitive drive to take more and more creative and unexpected selfies in strange places and at bizarre angles. Also contributing to this figure is India’s large and growing population (1.25 billion) and a booming smartphone market.

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Mumbai-based psychologist Keerti Sachdeva said this problem has roots in teenagers’ need to find acceptance and recognition from their peers. “You know people have this sort of feeling in adolescent age, especially that they need to get this acceptance from everyone, that I am a smart person, I am a good-looking person,” Sachdeva said. “So for acceptance and recognition they are indulging in the taking of selfies.” Technology has provided a method to achieve the sensation of this recognition in a way that simply did not exist before the widespread adoption of smartphones and social media.

Ellen celebrity selfie at Oscars 2014

As part of a public safety measure, Mumbai’s municipal council has mapped out dangerous selfie regions and declared these no-selfie zones. Mostly, these include high areas lacking railings or barriers as well as coastal selfie hotspots. Politician Abhishek Ghosalkar, who took part in the call for this ban, cited evidence of some psychologists calling an obsession with selfies a kind of disorder.

This may well be the case. News coverage continues to break reporting self-snapping related tragedy. Just this month, for instance, an 18-year-old visiting a dam on a class trip attempted to take a dramatic selfie while perched on a rock. The student lost his balance and toppled into the water below. Another student dove in to try and save him, but both students lost their lives. Similarly, an engineering student in Tamil Nadu fell from a rock while attempting to take a group selfie and suffered fatal head wounds. Previously, three students paused to take a group selfie in front of an oncoming train and were fatally struck. The sad list goes on and on.

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In addition to the ban, Mumbai has laid down plans to run a selfie risk awareness campaign. This may be a wise act for other parts of the world to follow, because this trend is not limited to India.  Russia takes second place for selfie deaths, having witnessed at least 7 since 2014. It is estimated that people aged 21 and younger constitute over 60% of selfie-related deaths, with males representing over twice as many as females.

What are your thoughts regarding “Selfie Fever” and the rise of related deaths? Is Mumbai’s limited selfie ban a stifling of self-expression or a necessary safeguard against the loss of human life? Let us know your opinion and take on this issue in the comments below.

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  • Armaan Modi

    Interesting.

  • So they basically banned natural selection

  • Fabian Taveras

    Smh only in India. Google needs to make a facepalm emoji because this is pretty embarrassing/sad

  • Aweso

    Student 1: let’s take a selfie in front of that incoming train
    Student 2: let me Google real fast if it’s against the law… Nope
    Student 3: alright, let’s do it!

    Good thing they’re patching that legal loophole now. o_______________o

  • KeyserSoze

    The world is way over-populated with mostly dumb people taking up valuable space and resources and polluting the sht out of the Earth. The more of them die off and not reproduce, the better. In short, if taking selfies kills dumb people, take more selfies!

    • Sherpa

      If everybody was smart, the world wouldn’t be livable.

      • k

        There is a difference between just not being smart, and standing in front of a train to take pictures of yourself

    • Ki Late

      Well said

    • Saurabh Sahu

      those were students, teenager. Have some sense before writing.That is one awful and shameless comment.

      • KeyserSoze

        >>> those were students, teenager. <<<

        Don't give a damn, way too many stupid useless people reproducing and sucking this planet dry, got to draw the line somewhere in order to curb this runaway virus. Life on Earth will easily go on and thrive without their insignificant presence.

        • Saurabh Sahu

          Educate them, make them realise . Lose of life is not justifiable for anyone. Saying that they are meant to die is as foolish as those kids. Lots of people try these things, most of them get away without a scratch, those who are unfortunate die and gets labelled as stupid.

          • Abhijeet

            KeyserSoze’s comment might be politically incorrect but it is not wrong.
            How is having no concern for your own life an acceptable thing? These people were in their late teens or older, not toddlers. Hence, these incidents are not ‘accidents’, they are suicide by accident. No one is condemning selfies or young people doing something stupid, but risking your life for a selfie, that’s just species-ending level bad. They took on an endeavor which in any scenario is life-threatening and if some of them ended getting hurt, it is not misfortune, but those who survived are definitely lucky. You seem to have genuine concern for these ‘kids’, but don’t you believe your life is your life to live not to give away.

    • Ikhsan Hasbi

      I somewhat agree. I wouldn’t go that far to tell these approval hungry and attention whore people to die. But seriously they need to tone it down a little bit and get their shit together.

    • warsar

      Keysersoze am stealing your comment. I agree!

  • bob

    stupid people ,even in my gym class ,after a grueling work out,there must be a photo taken so it can be plastered all over their social media like it;s a proud achievement ,giving no damn about people privacy and rights and i felt bad for the lady who didn’t want to be part of the photo was made to stand by the trainer

  • KeyserSoze

    “some psychologists calling an obsession with selfies a kind of disorder.”

    Disorder? Why the touchy-feely euphemism? Why pretend/imply there’s a cure for stupid? Don’t pamper and coddle stupid people and encourage them to further propagate their inferior genes. Let them die out so the whole of our species can actually evolve into some semblance of a higher being.

  • P. Sherman

    A part of me thinks that it’s only a matter of time from banning Selfies to imposing a curfew to banning mass demonstrations and nuking free speech and freedom of expression as we know it. I mean, this is the government that tried to ban Internet adult videos and then rescinded it after just ONE WEEK, are they thinking erroneously again?

  • 3223

    Why oh why would you wanna take a Selfie in front of a train??

    The researcher was a bit wrong. Sure people take Selfies coz they wanna feel like they look good. But that they’re smart? It’s more like they look good and they’re cool to be at such places.

    Sadly since I’m not a photographic person, my cameras are severely underutilized…

  • warsar

    Keysersoze am stealing your comment. I agree

  • Rohit Raja

    Now we’ll have “Selfie kills” signs around too i guess….Nut cases. Sad though.

  • Fakhruddin Darwis

    When I reached that train part, I stopped feeling bad. Really..
    Those kind of people soon or later will be caught in bad situation caused by their own stupidity.

  • aaloo

    highest number of selfie related deaths occur in india. people can be really stupid. its sad but true. just like people who smoke and burn their lungs or drink and waste away their livers, when there are kids with cystic fibrosis or congenital hepatic cirrhosis who die early. people don’t appreciate how valuable their health and life really is.

  • Nitish Anand

    use selfie sticks not in vehicles