Put Down the Selfie Stick

There we were, sitting on the edge of the cliff overlooking Horseshoe Bend in Northern Arizona, trying to get just the right angle to fit both of us in the frame and get some of the scenery in the background. One stretch in the wrong direction or one misstep could have sent us careening down the several hundred foot drop. We knew this, and my friend suddenly turned to me and said “Why don’t we just ask someone to take our picture?”

My first reaction: Why in the world would we do that? My phone can do this just fine by itself! Then I realized she was right. We should stop putting our lives in danger for a relatively crappy photo. We should ask someone to do it for us.

When we got into the car to drive to our next destination, Grand Canyon National Park, we had an interesting conversation about the impact of the selfie. We came to the realization that the selfie has led us to forget how to interact with others. Quite simply, we’ve forgotten how to ask others for their help. In this case, it’s help with snapping a photo.

Think of it. It wasn’t too long ago that you’d go on a family vacation and want to get a group shot with the old Kodak Disc or 110 camera. Perhaps you were embarrassed when your mom intercepted some wandering person and asked him or her: “Would you mind taking our picture?” You probably can’t remember anyone ever saying no. Yet, even as we know that total strangers are completely willing to participate in the capturing of our memories, we don’t do it anymore. We rely on the selfie – and the selfie stick, which has made the need to ask something of others even less of a requirement.

As we enter into the holiday season, a time in which many photos will be taken with family and friends, consider not going the easy route with the selfie. Reach out to another human being. Ask the question: “Would you mind taking our picture?” Here’s why:

  1. You’ll get a better picture.
    We certainly did at Horseshoe Bend.
  2. Interacting with someone gives you an experience.
    The person we asked to take our photo told us of her trip with her sister and kids. We told her our story of our annual adventures together. While it’s likely we’ll never see these people again, we’ll always remember the exchange.
  3. You get an opportunity to show gratitude and perhaps even return the favor.
    We appreciated the lady who stopped to take our photo and chat with us. It opened the door for her to ask us to take a group shot with her family. Maybe she wouldn’t have done that had we not asked first.
  4. It gives you the opportunity to ask for, and receive help.
    It’s one of our values here at Kolbeco. Believe it or not, many people don’t find it natural or comfortable to ask for help, or perhaps they even see it as a weakness. It’s not. Great things happen when people help each other. Even if that great thing is a nice photo of two old friends on the edge of Horseshoe Bend.

And, while it’s a good place to start, don’t stop at the selfie. Consider other places in your world where you could use some help, and ask for it. Put down whatever devices you may be relying on, and ask the person standing next to you. Even if they don’t know, you never know where the conversation might lead, what you may learn through the exchange, and what relationship you might foster.

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