Why Capturing This One Particular Kind of Selfie Could Cost You Your Life

This might be the best reason of all to take a break from your phone.

Courtesy of Sergei Bobylev/Getty

In February, a 24-year-old Thai woman was killed by a train while taking a selfie. She and a friend had been drinking and decided to snap a photo with a train, distracting them from the fast-approaching train on the other track, the BBC reported.

This woman’s tragic story is the latest in a spate of “selfie deaths” that has swept the globe in the last few years. For example, The Telegraph reported a Mexican man accidentally shot himself in the head while posing for a selfie with a loaded gun. An American woman died in a car accident just seconds after posting a selfie of her listening to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, according to The Independent.

And in Russia, two soldiers were posing with a live grenade when the weapon suddenly detonated. Only the phone “survived to tell their tale,” Time Magazine reported.

According to a global study cited in The Telegraph, 127 selfie-related fatalities were reported between March 2014 and September 2016, which doesn’t even account for the unreported deaths or the ones that have occurred since. To put matters into perspective, Rolling Stone Magazine reported that, in 2015, more people died from selfies than from shark attacks.

Unfortunately, a number of these “selfie deaths” were a result of attempting a “killfie” — a selfie taken in a dangerous, life-threatening situation. This risky trend quickly gained traction on social media. Popular “killfies” include snapping a picture while hanging off the side of a cliff or falling from a tall building, according to Forbes.

To prevent future accidents, some tourist spots have designated selfie-free zones, and the Russian government even created a manual on “how to safely take a selfie.”

There’s a tragic sense of irony in our desire to capture the present moment, even if doing so may cost us our life. According to the book Je Selfie Donc Je Suis referenced in Quartz, young adults will take approximately 25,700 selfies in their lifetime.

Since we’re increasingly aware of technology’s unrelenting hold on our lives, it’s time we take action to break our addiction. You can use apps like Thrive to escape the constant stream of notifications or take a digital detox by traveling somewhere without your smartphone. The bottom line is: remember to look up from your screen and connect with the world around you.  

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