Speak Softly And Don’t Carry A Stick

The New York Times ran an interesting piece recently about the growing popularity among picture-takers of “selfie sticks” and the problems they are causing at public venues. For the uninitiated, a “selfie stick” is essentially a lightweight, extendable monopod with a mount for either a smartphone or compact camera that photographers use to pursue their narcissistic habits.

The problem is that in some instances these devices are viewed as a nuisance—or worse yet, a danger—with the result that some museums and other institutions and events are beginning to take action. Because of the potential damage selfie sticks can inadvertently cause to paintings and other items on display, museums are beginning to impose bans these “photographic tools”—like those already in place for tripods, full-size monopods, umbrellas, food and drink, etc.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts are but three of the museums that have or plan to ban selfie sticks.

The concern is not just potential damage to artwork, but the intrusion these devices may impose on the personal space of others attending museums, concerts, sporting events, nightclubs and other places where people congregate in close quarters. Naturally, it’s the popularity of posting images through social media that is largely responsible for the surging sales of these inexpensive devices which, according to market research firm IBISWORLD, number in the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. alone.

An argument could be made that the real problem isn’t with selfie sticks themselves, but rather with the so-called “operators” of these things. So for those of you are are devotees of the stick, the solution is simple: Be courteous, aware of your surroundings, and cognizant of the fact that others around you are there for purposes other than watching you take photos (or being poked in the eye).