Monday, July 27, 2015

#bisonselfie... Really?

Last week this headline caught my attention:

Bison injures woman posing for selfie at Yellowstone
Park officials say the 43 year old Mississippi woman turned her back on the animal Tuesday evening to get a photo with it on a trail near Old Faithful

My first thought was, "Are you kidding me?" because 1) I couldn't believe someone would turn their back to such a massive animal and 2) this is the 5th tourist vs. bison incident in Yellowstone this year alone.  Honestly, weren't the first four incidents of 2015 enough to deter this kind of behavior? Apparently not. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt this will be the last one either. 

When my family and I visited Yellowstone in 2006, upon entering our nation's first national park we were given a brochure and a map.  This flyer (pictured left) was also included. Yes, this is a photo of that flyer that I received in 2006!  I've kept it all these years in my photo album as a memento from that trip because, at the time, I couldn't believe that people lacked so much common sense that they needed a reminder to keep their distance from those behemoth beasts.  

Apparently not much has changed in terms of human behavior in the 9 years since I was there last.  It's probably worsened with the current selfie craze. 

So, let me ask the questions that have been on my mind since I first read the article.  
Is it just me or does getting within 6 yards (the distance the lady was from the bison) of a 2000 lb. WILD animal that has HUMONGOUS HORNS that can GORE you, can easily OUTRUN you, and whose species generally always appears to be PISSED OFF seem like a really bad idea?  
And, doesn't getting that close and then turning your back on that pissed off creature seem like an even worse idea?
After googling #bisonselfie (yes, that is a real hash tag, I didn't make that up), I realize that I may be in the minority because, apparently, people do it all the time.  Seriously, just google #bisonselfie and you can see all kinds of people pushing the envelope in pursuit of the almighty selfie.

I know I am completely dating myself here, but does anyone remember that 1990s song that featured comedian Bill Engvall and Travis Tritt called "Stupid People (Here's Your Sign)"? (Watch the YouTube video here.)  Perhaps an updated version needs to be created in which it features all the stupid things people do to capture the ultimate selfie.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knockin' selfies in general, for I am guilty of taking a few here and there myself.  Selfies taken in stupid situations, however, are a completely different story.

Trust me, I understand how easy it is to have "photo envy."  That's what I call the overwhelming desire and yearning you get when looking at other people's photos.  Given the ease of capturing photos (since most cell phones contain a camera), the rising popularity of personal high-definition action cameras (GoPro, etc), and the massive reach social media possesses, our society is seeing more and more images of common, ordinary people much like ourselves doing adventurous, uncommon things (skydiving, snorkeling, mountain climbing, base jumping) or in uncommon places.  I think we, as a culture, view our photos as merit badges.  There's an old phrase, "Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt."  Some years ago, the t-shirt might have sufficed as proof of one's adventures.  That is no longer the case. Today, in lieu of the t-shirt, we must have the selfie, for we seem to have fallen under the belief that if the moment wasn't captured digitally with at least a small part of our face in it and if the picture wasn't then shared with the masses, then that moment obviously didn't happen.

Sure, that lady from Mississippi got a great picture for her Instagram, but at what cost did she almost have to pay in order to get that Kodak Moment? Realistically, that #bisonselfie very well could've been her #lastselfie.

So, what are your thoughts?  Feel free to comment below and, as always, thanks for stopping by!

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