News

The very shoddy selfie

From the latest issue of the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care comes an instructive piece of research  entitled “Selfies: a boon or bane?”

The taking of a ‘selfie’ is a contemporary phenomenon which involves, for some bizarre reason, snapping a photo or video of oneself, often at an obscure or unusual location – though given the ubiquity of the tourist camera these days it’s questionable whether any location can be either ‘obscure’ or ‘unusual’.

This research says that between October 2011 and November 2017 there were 259 deaths caused by taking selfies – the photographer obviously slipping to their death in the act of taking the snap.

But how reliable is this figure?

Given that it was derived by trawling the Internet, not very. Today any old keyword search on the Internet can get published, and gain respectful attention too, if it produces sufficient sensationalism.

This one for example got the BBC’s attention, without any questioning of the accuracy of the number of deaths. The BBC likes death porn as much as the next person – and isn’t that interested in interrogating sources.

Picture source: Mstyslav Chernov