The Selfie Syndrome: Why You Need to Put Your Phone Down on Vacation

The Selfie Syndrome: Why You Need to Put Your Phone Down on Vacation

by, Kelly Logie


Imagine. You’ve been looking forward to your winter vacation for months. The plane ride is long and boring, but you look out the window and see the beautiful trees and fresh snow you’ve been fantasizing about. You get to your hotel, head to a stunning lookout point on the mountain, and it’s not exactly what you expected. Everywhere you look there’s an IPhone or a selfie stick. Picture after picture. Selfie after selfie. When will this silly fad come to an end? It’s hard to tell.


Nowadays, it’s difficult not to find someone taking a selfie or using a selfie stick at a popular tourist location. “Getting the right selfie” is a common phrase used in today’s culture. Selfies have become a phenomenon to promote yourself and where you have traveled. The younger generations pose the question, if you go on vacation but don’t take a selfie to post on social media, were you actually there? Kim Kardashian even made a book of selfies on her family trip to Greece.


Is it ridiculous? Certainly. Do people know it’s ridiculous, and still take an absurd amount of selfies? Unfortunately, yes.


Am I guilty of this? Absolutely. I’m the first to admit that I take way too many photos and selfies when on vacation. As an amateur photographer, I feel that I need to document every part of my trip. Although it’s fun, it can definitely get out of hand.


Local photographer and frequent traveler, Andie Gebbers sees both the pros and cons to selfie-taking, as well as the use of selfie sticks. “My selfie stick has been handy. When on vacation, I get the entire family or group in a picture with a cool background without using a timer or having to ask someone else to take the photo,” she says.



This graphic indicates the overuse of the selfie and selfie stick.

This graphic indicates the overuse of the selfie and selfie stick.



Sure, it’s fun and exciting to take a photo of yourself in a new destination. On the other hand, taking too many selfies results in narcissistic behavior, which I believe my generation has fallen victim to.


“I think that taking selfies gets in the way of people really experiencing their vacation,” Gebbers says, “We live in a time where we care about how our pictures look and how fast we get them on social media. We want our friends to know what we are doing rather than taking pictures for memories and really enjoying our time.”


For example, at an Arizona Diamondbacks game last fall, TV cameras were scanning the crowd and found a group of teenage girls not actually watching the game, but taking an endless amount of selfies. The clip went viral, and it clearly demonstrates how consumed we are with our electronic devices and not experiencing the moment.


Whitworth University photography teacher and freelance photographer, Kirk Hirota knows all about the “selfie syndrome.” “This topic hits very close to home as my wife, whom I love and adore, seems to go out of her way to make sure to take a selfie or group photo wherever we go and immediately posts it on social media. This occurs on trips, vacations, group runs or bike rides, even dinners out,” he says.


Hirota went on to tell me about when he visited New York City for the first time with family and friends. He vividly remembers arriving to Times Square, having to stop to take a group photo, and the wives all posted it to Facebook. They took about twenty minutes looking down at their phones, in the middle of Times Square, checking how many “likes” they were getting and responding to others’ comments on the photo. Hirota and the other husbands waited patiently, having learned that the slightest objection to this activity would result in unhappy wives and an unpleasant rest of the day.


“Instead of soaking in and experiencing all of the sights and sounds of the city, it seemed more important to post it on social media. I’m not sure if this is some way of ‘showing off’ or ‘look what I’m doing’, or fishing for compliments or what. Again, not saying my wife is consciously doing it, but I can understand how it might appear this way to some,” he says.



Don't always be on your phone taking selfies at the beach, but in the moment!

Don’t always be on your phone taking selfies at the beach, but in the moment!



You don’t want to go through life looking back at yourself on a screen, do you?


Trust me, you don’t want to relive your vacation by only remembering the pictures you took. Live life. Don’t be like Kim Kardashian. Take the occasional photo, but don’t be too obsessed with getting the “right one.” Soak in the sights. Enjoy your vacation. And don’t forget to be in the moment.

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