Hate ‘Em or Love ‘Em, My Experience With the Selfie Stick


I have a confession. In the ultimate act of tourist behaviour – right up there with wandering the streets of a city, eyes to the sky, map in hand – I bought a selfie stick. It gets worse. I bought the so-called “monopod” (a name intended to elevate the contentious instrument of vanity) in the mecca of backpacker consumerism itself, Khao San Road. Amid $2 Singha beer tank tank tops and counterfeit Nike kicks I forked over the grand sum of 40 baht (roughly $1.50) for a bright pink rubberized selfie stick.

It was all in the name of research though, I swear! Selfie sticks have popped up everywhere, and I admit, underneath my vocal jabs about the obnoxious extendable arms, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

When I wrote to my friend Laura, confessing my embarrassing purchase, here was her response:

I applaud you for the selfie stick purchase. We almost considered it but chickened out last minute because we thought we’d never have the guts to use it. That being said though, our photos from London look like our photos from Madrid, which look like our photos from Brussels because we can only hold the phone so far away and thus causes a lack of variety!!! But I know you know this already!! So great on you for taking the plunge!

And there you have it, a concise explanation of why I abandoned any attempts to be “cool” and look like a local, and crossed over to the dark side.

Yes selfie sticks are obnoxious (and apparently caused more deaths last year than shark attacks), but travelling without one (especially when you’re travelling solo), results in a camera roll full of photos that include either:
(A) generic scenery where I am noticeably absent, leading my mom to question whether or not I still look the same as the last time she saw me, or
(B) shots of my big head in attempted old-school selfies, limited by the length of my arm, which inevitably ends up in the frame.

I’ll admit, I still have some latent embarrassment using the selfie stick. Selfies in general feel pretty narcissistic, and the use of the extendable baton just draws even more attention to the act. But when I do pull it out, the resulting photos at least show me in context of the amazing places I’ve been, not just my big old head, duck-facing it for all to see. Plus, I’m quick to remind myself that, I will likely never see the people around me again, so any embarrassment is short-lived (I use the same logic for any opportunities to dance in public or wear Birkenstocks 24/7). It’s for these reasons that I say, don’t dismiss the selfie stick so quickly. Monopods are the new Thelma & Louise.

Here are some “selfies” from my travels, all done in the name of research. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My very first selfie stick photo. The beginning of the end.

Seeing more street than scenery – it’s a work in progress.

Totally trying to pretend that someone else took this photo on the river. Are you buying it?

Monks like to selfie too.

This is a selfie I took when I thought I was trying durian, but I was really eating jackfruit.

Angkor Wat selfie in my favourite hat.

Selfies with friends who want to pretend like this isn’t happening, but you can see the selfie stick in my sunglasses. Busted.

I’m not the only one playing with the stick.

Selfie with Mamma. I still haven’t learned to get my arm out of the way 🙁 Maybe I’m not cut out for selfie stick life after all.

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