Why the aversion to selfie sticks? I don't understand it. That's like having an opinion about tripods. A tool that holds your camera for you? Haha, pretty indulgent, you self-obsessed millenial!
Yeah it can look amusing, dorky, or annoying if you're generally annoyed by anything that doesn't fit your view of how people should behave when they're minding their own business. The criticism seems in line with using the iPad camera: hey, that looks kind of cumbersome and nerdy, so you should just never use it, ever. Got to LOOK COOL if you're taking a photo. ELEGANT photography solutions in my presence please; Leica or bust.
No one complains about self-timers on cameras or tripods, but when used in conjunction with a kind-of newish device, the internet is all BLARGH duckface FAIL eyeroll MILLENIALS worst year ever. Haven't we already gone through this bullshit regarding selfies? Self portraits are not new. "Selfies" aren't new. Facebook isn't new, Instagram isn't new, broadcasting photos and videos of yourself isn't new. And the selfie sticks are just a tool to augment the photo so the camera is more than a foot and a half away from your face. There's nothing wrong with that. It might look odd, or even obnoxious to do in some circumstances, but there's nothing wrong with that.
Do you think my grandma wouldn't be delighted as hell to see a picture of me at the Grand Canyon? Maybe I want a wider shot so she can see me in the scenery. Maybe I need some kind of monopod extender. Maybe I'm at McDonalds instead of the Grand Canyon, it doesn't matter; taking a stupid picture of myself isn't affecting you. My dorkiness is not your burden to bear.
Sure there are people with misguided aspirations of becoming some kind of online "personality" by virtue of broadcasting their lives, but by and large it's just normal boring people taking normal boring pictures to share with their normal boring friends. Much more eloquent writers than myself have addressed the issue of the contemporary selfie—the stick being a mere tool to augment such photos. As Jenna Wortham put it in the NYT:
Rather than dismissing the trend as a side effect of digital culture or a sad form of exhibitionism, maybe we're better off seeing selfies for what they are at their best — a kind of visual diary, a way to mark our short existence and hold it up to others as proof that we were here. The rest, of course, is open to interpretation.
Being a professional internet dweeb, I spend a lot of time talking with friends online who I barely ever see in real life, and of course sometimes I share stupid pictures of myself. Someone watching might be familiar with my stupid face and be happy to see me. And sometimes I do it because life can be a lonely-ass experience and beaming my stupid face out into internet space can feel like making a connection, or the possibility of one.
And talking with Bob on Twitter last night about this, he's not wrong about the inherent embarrassment of it:
It's slightly embarrassing—for grown men, at least—to take selfies. I'm not sure why, exactly; something to do with our own stern-upper-lipped mentality in which we feel it necessary to put on the affectation of being unconcerned with our appearance, or at least somehow superior to teenage girls (though we are not) in our disregard for considering our self-presentation and desire to be liked or make a connection.
Charlie Warzel looked at this oncoming tidal wave of casual monopods back in July, without inherent disdain, I think, but with the reasonable reluctance that one may view a new trend that has the potential to become ubiquitous while being mildly obnoxious to see in public. And now you can buy them at Walgreens or Duane Reade. (Which—aside—I love those pharmacy chains; you can buy Halloween candy, Christmas ornaments, shampoo, a USB drive, Mountain Dew, and pick up your prescription for heart worm all in a single trip. Typical Saturday night for me.)
As far as trends to be annoyed with, or even quizzical about—this is a dumb one. People like to take self portraits, and some photos are better framed with more distance from the subject. So just be kind and let people take photos with their sticks. Let them take photos with an iPad attached to a katana. Let them take photos with a pinhole camera carved out of a potato. It's not hurting you and it's making other people happy.