I just read another story of somebody who fell off a cliff trying to take a selfie. Actually, they should call it a "cellfie" because most of these accidents happen only with cellphones. Not long ago, a person trying to squeeze his handgun into the picture shot himself in the head. That's called updating your Facebook profile the hard way.
It seems that when we're not taking pictures of ourselves falling off cliffs or shooting ourselves, we are taking pictures of ourselves getting hit by cars, trains or buses while trying to take that perfect shot that says, "I was here and aaawwwhhhhhh! ..."
It makes you wonder who had the bright idea to put a camera in a phone in the first place. Now it seems normal, but the first time someone suggested it years ago, it must have come across as a pretty wacky idea -- like telling your friends, "Hey, I just had a brainstorm; let's put a camera in a vacuum cleaner!" Or, "Let's put a camera in a coffeemaker." Why would you ever want a camera in your phone?
Kids won't believe this, but for most of its history, your phone wouldn't take a picture of you -- no matter how many buttons you pushed. And if it did, it would show you in your kitchen with five other people hanging around eavesdropping on your conversation. This idea that every member of the family could have their own personal phone would have seemed just as wacky.
When the "Princess" telephone first came out in 1959, it was designed to be used in the bedroom. But many parents were appalled at the idea of giving teenagers a phone that couldn't be monitored. The world was surely coming to an end the day that happened.
"How did people post on Snapchat and Instagram?" kids today might ask. If you don't want them to think you rode a dinosaur to school every day, just say, "We had to text."
Although I've never taken pictures of myself on top of cliffs or while riding a Harley using no hands, when I go on vacation I take lots of photos with my phone. Photos I rarely look at ever again. So many of those magnificent vistas look small and unimpressive in 2D. I'll come back with 300 photos on my phone -- Sue buying a purse, me eating something that didn't agree with the chef and a couple of pictures of a monument or a picture of a guy balancing on a cliff trying to take the perfect shot of himself -- stuff that I don't even want to see again, so why would my friends? I end up deleting all but the best five, so that when people ask we can get it over with pretty quickly.
Why do we take so many pictures of ourselves? To prove we were there? Proving you went somewhere on vacation is a big deal. I saw a piece in the paper last week about a cathedral in Italy that had a graffiti problem. Tourists cannot seem to stop themselves from writing things like "Tom and Denise, 2014" in magic marker on the walls of a 600-year-old Gothic masterpiece. And it's hard to get magic marker out of white marble. Whoops, did I say hard? I meant impossible. Thanks, Tom and Denise. I can't wait to come to your house and write something on your living room wall to prove that I was there. It reminds me of that old Noel Coward song lyric, "Why do the wrong people travel/When the right people stay back home?"
To solve the problem, the cathedral has put up a touch-screen computer that tourists can sign. Their messages will be digitally stored forever, proving that they were actually there and, despite the urge, they didn't deface anything.
I hope Tom and Denise install one before I get to their house.