The selfie-stick, as it has been coined, is an extendable monopod which enables the secure fastening of a smart phone to aid taking photographs. No more straining of outstretched arms to frame yourself with picturesque backdrops, no more stressed grins from craned necks when trying to compose the perfect couple two shot on a romantic holiday. The popularity of the device was tangible with many busloads of tourists exploring the new found frontiers of a selfie taken long shot with a wide angle camera phone lens.
For personal social networking the selfie has become the stereotype, love it or loathe it. Aside from what some see as narcissistic, the holiday selfie is something that most of us attempt. I could see the draws of the telescopic arm the stick offered when I review the few two shot selfies of my partner and I, which always looked part grimaced and part aggrieved that my arms were not longer. When travelling as a duo, in particular, it is a rare moment for both to be in a photograph as every holiday album shows a photo of either one or the other. When sharing experiences of new adventures with family and friends via social media it would be nice to present the experiences as they were, with both of us there at the same time, in the same place, together.
What I noticed, however, was that the wider impact of the selfie stick was an interesting phenomenon. Though the value of the device for better quality images for social networking was apparent, it seemed to hinder any potential real life social networking. Whilst owners of the selfie-stick seemed self sufficient, their competence to take an amazing photo without assistance left them unapproached by the kindly stranger asking if they would like the picture taken for them. It was mine and my partners grimacing face and strained arms that made us meet some lovely people. The kind French lady who offered her assistance, the American man who leapt at the chance to take a photo of us in challenging conditions of bright sunlight and dark shadows. We of course repaid the favours whilst meeting a group of elderly men and women who were in fact from Newcastle (Australia).
This phenomenon made me think about the ways in which the tools of social media are so valuable to our lives and businesses, but we must remember to also embrace those opportunities for real life networking. This encounter seemed metaphorical to me; that to connect with all potential new friends or publics we need to strike a balance between the selfie-stick and the outstretched arm, between our online networking and real life networking. Though the balance can be a tricky one to strike, it is nonetheless the best way to encompass the whole range of social interaction.