Selfie stick ban points the lens at rule-breakers

By | January 22nd, 2016

Can we all think back to the prehistoric days of travel when, if we actually wanted to be in a picture, we had to have someone else take it for us?

Those days are gone. With the rise of cell phone cameras and selfie sticks, we can now take and be in the picture.

But at many major tourist attractions, that’s becoming more difficult.

Why? Selfie sticks are being banned.

It’s an impressive list and growing quickly. Among the banning locales are Disney theme parks, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Lollapalooza Music Festival and soccer stadiums in England, Brazil and Australia.

Our friends at Travel Leaders Group recently surveyed American travelers about dilemmas they face. Part of the survey centered on selfie sticks. The results tell us something about how well Americans follow rules and how they might respond when faced with selfie stick-related situations.

Travel Leaders Group asked 3,371 consumers, “If you knew it was prohibited and you saw another tourist taking photos with a selfie stick, what would you do?” They reported the results as:

Say something directly to the person: 8.90 percent
Tell a security guard or official personnel: 31.2 percent
Say nothing: 33.7 percent
Not sure: 26.2 percent

It is interesting to note that almost 60 percent of respondents would either say nothing or were not sure what they would do. Maybe some people don’t want to get involved. Maybe they’re afraid that if they say something they’ll end up in a conflict with the person breaking the rules. Maybe some don’t care about the rules.

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Regardless of the why, it tells us that a majority of people don’t want to report a rule breaker or haven’t thought about what they would do in that circumstance.


What would you do? Clearly, if a rule is in place prohibiting selfie sticks, there is a good reason, right? Such as:

Intrusion into the personal space of those around the selfie stick user
Lack of awareness that someone using a selfie stick could cause injury
Disruption of an amusement park ride

But what if you were the person with the selfie stick? Travel Leaders Group asked that question as well: “If you were taking photos in a location that banned selfie sticks, what would you do?” The results:

I don’t own a selfie stick, so it’s not a problem: 78.5 percent
I’d still try to use my selfie stick and hope not to get caught: 0.50 percent
I’d abide by the rules and not use my selfie stick: 18.8 percent
Not sure 2.30: percent

(Note: I realize this equals 100.1 percent, but I’m just reporting their results.)

Several bits of data are encouraging from these answers. First, 78.5 percent of those surveyed do not own selfie sticks. That’s great news.

Second, of the 21.5 percent of people who own a selfie stick, only 0.5 percent say they would try to use it and not get caught. Another 18.8 percent say they’d obey the rules. I’m actually surprised so few Americans say they’d try to break the rule and not get caught. Aren’t we known as rule breakers?

So what can we learn from this survey?

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You don’t actually need a selfie stick. With nicknames like the “wand of narcissism” or the “narcisstick,” it’s better to leave it on the store shelf.

Americans are not real big when it comes to tattling on rulebreakers. Americans might be better rule followers than I thought. Selfie sticks are a nuisance.

So what would you do? Are you a selfie stick rule-obeyer? Would you tell on someone in this or a similar situation where the rules are being broken? Do you follow the rules?

Would you use a selfie stick in a location that bans them?

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