By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
Let’s look at congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We all have our abbreviations and acronyms. Every discipline does.
Now, courtesy of incredibly foolish behavior sweeping the planet we have SRT – Selfie-Related Trauma. People around the world are being injured or even dying by doing dangerous things while trying to take “selfies” (photographs, using a cell phone, of themselves and perhaps others who may be nearby).
Most, but not all of these cases involve students. The top three countries for SRTs are India, the United States, and Russia. Multiple traumatic injuries most often result from falls into rivers and canyons, from falls off of cliffs or trains, and from motor vehicle accidents. Drownings and electrocutions complete the list.
The science of photography has changed the world. For over 150 years, people took pictures of other people, exquisite scenery, major events, and touching moments. Now, many people can’t get through the day without taking photos of themselves engaged in the most mundane or ridiculous situations. Look at me in the kitchen. Look at me at work. Look at me on vacation. Look at me by the Statue of Liberty or the Grand Canyon.
We now have two generations, possibly three, who have been conditioned to believe a picture is incomplete without ME. This is not only pathetic, it is dangerous.
Not long ago, a young woman at a zoo learned an important lesson about the dangers of ignoring barriers to get a selfie. She went into an area she should not have entered and breached a barrier. Determined to get not merely a close-up of a jaguar, but a selfie with a wild animal, she turned her back on the animal to photograph herself in front of the jaguar. The jaguar nearly captured her. That’s what wild animals do. Fortunately, the woman survived to recount her foolish behavior.
Barriers and warnings exist for a reason. They’re there to protect people. Jaguars are spectacular animals. They can approach speeds of 80 miles per hour and, like all cats, they are fiercely territorial. The desire to take a photo is understandable. The photo should be of the jaguar, not yourself with the jaguar.
There are several lessons to be learned here:
- Never ignore barriers, roadblocks, or warning signs unless you are the EMT (emergency medical technician) responding to the situation.
- Appreciate the beauty or wonder around us but realize that we do not enhance the beauty or wonder.
- Never, ever turn your back on a mountainside, cliff, bridge, canyon, or a wild animal.
If people are really that enchanted with themselves, there are these things called mirrors.