The selfie stick is having a moment.
The act of people taking pictures of themselves has never been as ubiquitous as it is today — and consequently, everyone’s trying to make money off of selfies. Sony is reportedly releasing a phone that’s designed for selfies. Under Armour designed its latest clothing line with gym selfies in mind. You can even buy a mirror that will take your selfie for you (though arguably by definition a selfie is a picture you take of yourself, not a photograph a mirror takes of you).
The next step in the commodification of the selfie: the selfie stick.
Selfie sticks may have originated within the extreme sports community, according to BuzzFeed. But an Instagram search for “#selfiestick” doesn’t turn up pictures of people enjoying the outdoors, clutching a metal stick with their GoPro attached to it. Instead, you’ll see images of hordes of young people posing for group photos. The primary appeal of the selfie stick seems to be its ability to fit more people into the frame.
Selfie sticks first gained traction in Southeast Asia, a region that contains four of the top 10 “selfiest” cities in the world. The Huffington Post reported in March that young people in Indonesia have clamored for the extendable metal wands to help improve their selfie game.
A quick Amazon search for “selfie stick” returns over a hundred of results for monopods — the tripod’s one-legged brother — ranging in price from $US7.99 to $US79.99. The metal sticks typically have a handle on one end and an adjustable clamp on the other end to hold your phone in place. Some selfie sticks some with remote controls, letting the user decide when to take the picture. Others don’t, so users set timers on their phone’s camera. Once you get the perfect shot, the selfie stick collapses into its handle, becoming small and portable.
They fit most smartphones, and even GoPros. In fact, the POV Pole 36″ GoPro-Edition monopod is the 49th most popular item in Amazon’s camera store. An Amazon spokesperson said, “GoPro is one of the hottest selling items year-round in Amazon’s camera store. In addition, we’ve seen an uptick in sales of selfie sticks over the past few months as customers are spending more time travelling and doing other outdoor activities.”
Director of Sales for Promaster, Rich Bright, said his monopod company branded its device as a “Selfie Stick” earlier this year, according to BuzzFeed. He said the company can’t keep up with the demand and has had to make an emergency order for more selfie sticks.
There’s no telling what any of this means for the future of auto-photography — how much further can people really take the trend? There’s also the logistical issue of the devices themselves. What happens when we’re all walking around holding 36-inch sticks, staring at own faces in our phones’ reverse cameras?
Selfie naysayers will argue that selfie sticks are an indication that society has reached peak narcissism. But selfie sticks might just be a way for retailers to cash in on another viral trend.