Selfies and the misnomer of spectator sport

Kittel selfie

A couple of months ago, German cyclist Marcel Kittel slumped exhausted to the road after winning the Dublin stage of the Giro d’Italia.

As he sat on the ground grimacing, Irish cycling enthusiast David McCarthy jumped in with his camera.

“Kittel collapsed after the line today so instead of giving him a hand up I took a selfie,” he informed his followers. And then he watched perplexed as the fickle beast of social media mauled him to pieces.

While he has since removed the offending photo and apologised, he still retweets people who post selfies they’ve taken with him, assuming his own small piece of sports celebrity.

Of course, if he wanted a photo of Kittel, he could have snapped one from a more respectful distance without inserting his own cherubic melon into it. But that would have made him a mere observer, not a participant.

This week as the Tour de France did the rounds of England, the problem of spectators making themselves part of the action, stepping out in the road to snap their noggins against the backdrop of a fast moving peloton became, as British cyclist Geraint Thomas articulately put it, ‘a giant pain in the arse’.

American rider Tejay van Garderen branded it ‘a dangerous mix of vanity and stupidity’ after suffering a selfie-inspired fall, urging spectators to ‘think’, then tweeting: “Gonna ice my knee now.”

Lithuanian cyclist Ramunas Navardauskas took matters into his own hands, swatting phones out of spectators hands as he rode by.

Of course, Tour organisers might have scored a bit of an own goal after tweeting this picture, along with the message: “1st selfie of Le Tour make your own one with ~TDFselfie”.

Though for the most part a harmless pursuit, psychiatrists have warned that overdoing it on the selfies can lead to narcissism, low self esteem, self-indulgence and addiction.

One man says he became suicidal trying to snap the perfect selfie, taking up to 200 pictures a day.

0In April, two men were trampled to death in Kenya taking selfies with an elephant. Kim Kardashian, quite the selfie expert, also had a scary pachyderm encounter in Thailand, which merely resulted in a large amount of elephant breath being blasted up her butt.

Driving selfies have led to a number of road deaths, including an American driver killed in a head-on collision seconds after posting a selfie on Facebook, along with a status update telling friends how happy she was.

In February, one young daredevil took what was dubbed one of the world’s most dangerous selfies at the Great Bull Run in Houston, filming his attempt to escape a butt piercing.

At Pamplona, a new council regulation bans people from taking photos while running with the bulls. Yes, they actually needed to bring in a law.

Kayleigh Hill taking a selfie mid-tackle.And then there’s Kayleigh Hill, who last year tweeted from a baseball game: “If everyone chips in to the $1,500 fine… we will run on the field. Guys I actually really wanna.” Run on to the pitch she did, phone in hand to record the event.

Now she has a bunch of selfies of her being crash tackled by security. One day she can show the grandkids.

So here’s a quick guide on when not to take a selfie:

Steph_Rice_Swimwear_Appreciation1. In your togs.

It doesn’t matter how good you look, people will just think you love yourself. Which is probably true.

2. When you’re driving.

That should be obvious. If Lewis Hamilton doesn’t do it, neither should you.

LeBron dentist3. In the dentist’s chair.

That means you, LeBron James. Actually, let’s say any medical appointment is off limits.


4. When you look like this.

We really don’t need to see that.

5. When you’re a danger to yourself or others.

That would rule out a LOT of selfies. Including the one in point 4.

selfie-knife-teenager6. When you’re about to rob a store.

You think I’m joking.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anna says:

    It seemed to become okay to take a photo of yourself around the same time it became okay to read pornography in public (I’m looking at you, all those women who’ve ever sat next to me on the train reading Fifty Shades Of Grey. What’s that about?). Do what you will in the privacy of your own home but watching people read bad porn and take narcissistic photos is something I’d prefer not to see!


    1. Anna says:

      PS – great post Boalchy!


    2. kazblah says:

      And don’t even get me started on people who do both at the same time! Thanks Anna, as always, for your entertaining insights. I hadn’t made that connection.


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