In Russia, it’s become popular amongst young people to position themselves in danger long enough to take a selfie. Enough that this has become the topic of a Russian Public Service Graphic. It’s been observed that this is a trend expected in a nation of vodka inebriati with digital cameras. I offered the following (blogworthy, I think) anecdote.

I have a parent who was very much into one of the more socially accepted forms of daredevilry (There are tall mountains far away from civilization. Mom would act often on the urge to go climb to the top of them). And Mom dragged along a high-powered camera and took many pictures, including more than a few selfies accomplished by an exposure timer.

For some adventurers, like Mom, there is some measure of accepted risk. Death is inevitable, and risking our lives by positioning ourselves deep in the wilds, or plummeting from an airplane or hurtling at high speeds along a racetrack (or — and this is insane — down the snowdrifts of a steep mountainside while perched on flat sticks) can give us a stronger sense of control of the manner in which we die, or if not yet, the manner in which we live. Or in my experience with downhill skiing, raise the question of why, in the name of all things holy and cosmic, am I doing this!?

My own experiences in the bush (as a child) have given me a greater appreciation for the comforts of urban life. Hot water, toilet paper, food at every street corner, internet access from anywhere, convenient bus stops and frequent buses — these are enjoyable in sharp relief when contrasted to the deep wilds where we have only what we’ve been carrying. And that is before we venture into rough terrain and harsh elements.

Granted, some people are not fully aware of the risks they take. Mom once got to see a man fall off a cliffside and bounce against the rock face. It took almost a day for a helicopter to be summoned, by which time he was long dead for want of emergency medical facilities (and cold and preserved thanks to the frigid temperatures). I’m pretty sure during this incident Mom gained much awareness of her own mortality and reconsidered her mountaineering lifestyle. She continued to climb anyway.

But I think the danger is going to happen because humans are something of a wild, crazy and risk-taking bunch. Selfies allow us to show those times we lived. And reflect on those of us who didn’t.

Also, I should add, when it comes to dangerous game hunting, selfies are easier on the bears than bullets, and can reflect a greater daring given the added necessity of escaping the quarry.


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