Twenty-seven-year-old Edgar Garay was killed after he fell from a cliff in Puerto Rico last Sunday while attempting to film a social media video for TikTok. He’s the latest victim of a tragic accident while trying to capture a great photo or video.
Indian scientists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences conducted a 2018 study and found that 259 people died while taking “extreme selfies.” There have been falls from the top of mountain cliff sides and high buildings. Others have also been drowned by floodwaters or were prey to wild animals. One case involved a Russian soldier and a girl from Romania who tried to snap the “ultimate selfie” while holding a live bomb. A second Russian soldier was using a live grenade to pose, but she accidentally stepped on a wire.
It is also a global phenomenon – with selfie-related deaths being most common in India, Russia, the United States, and Pakistan. Nearly three quarters of the victims were men.
Images and social media
Although there are many instances of people who died while taking the perfect picture before social media was invented, it seems that the problem is growing.
The fact that it’s easier than ever to take photographs could be one factor. Recently, it was reported that worldwide, more than 1.81 trillion photos were taken every year. That’s roughly 57,000 per second and 5 billion each day. The number of photos taken each year will rise to 2.33 trillion.
Although the vast majority of these images won’t get seen, billions of them are uploaded each day. It seems like many are trying to capture a perfect shot that’s not been done a million times.
Video sharing is easy and people are willing to take unnecessary risks due to the convenience of filming them.
Clifford Lampe from the University of Michigan’s School of Information said, “It certainly is exacerbated now. And we do hear more about it.” Two things have made it more complicated. The power of social media to bring attention to the important things that we do is remarkable. Information once restricted only to mass media, can live online on TikTok, or any other platform without having to go through a filter.
This extension is also part of fear of missing the opportunity (FOMO).
Professor Jason Mollica of American University’s School of Communication said, “We see many people feeling they need to capture every moment of life, then immediately post it on social media. Or it doesn’t matter.”
Mollica said that this could include taking a photo similar to one taken by someone else and making it better. It can also be a thought that “If somebody else did it, then it must have been safe.” We see many people – in part because we are so enamored with celebrity – that we try to do the same.”
Make it Look Easier
It is notable that you can take videos and photos so quickly. Professions used to take the perfect photos for magazines. Now everyone can try to do it – and some learn that it isn’t as easy as it seems, and that too could contribute to the accidents as individuals may pay more attention to the photo taking or video filming than their safety.
Lampe stated, “A professional understands how to create the best composition. While everyone else only takes one thousand pictures,” We just have to be lucky and take so many photos that somehow we get the perfect composition.
The platforms can’t stop it
Here is a case where the social media platforms may not actively be encouraging risky behaviors – like climbing to the edge of a cliff to take a selfie – but there is really nothing that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok could do to stop it either.
Lampe stated that the algorithms don’t allow for safety to be a priority and therefore people who see the best photo or video might not realise how hazardous it is. Video is becoming an increasingly unreliable source of information. It’s only a limited view of what is actually happening. The failed attempts are not visible. Pictures and videos give us an idealized picture of the world.
Then there is the fact that these beauty shots can be quite rewarding – first from the feelings that the individual receives when seeing they’re the subject of such a shot, and then from the accolades it may receive when shared online.
Lampe stated that there is often an “ephedrine rush” when someone posts something special to social media. It’s now the norm for everyone to be a content producer or creator. When you share something that attracts attention, it can become a reward.
This reward can, unfortunately, cost lives. While social media sites may be able to crackdown on potentially dangerous tasks, it can’t stop these types of criminal activity.
Mollica stated that this is a clear case of young people not being educated about the potential dangers of social media if they use it wrongly. They don’t realize that social media can cause you to be hurt or even killed.