Why tourists are dying for the perfect ‘selfie’
May 5, 2019
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The view is spectacular. But it’s been photographed a million times before. So how do young travellers sell the idea of the awe and spectacle they’re experiencing to their social-media associates? By taking selfies. At great personal risk.

How better to emphasise the awesome scale of a cliff on a few thousand pixels of social-media post than by giving it context. Such as yourself. Dangling over the edge.

Nevermind that one slip could send you to your death.

Ivan Beerkus and Angela Nikolaus have told Seven’s Sunday Night what drives them to seek the world’s most ‘extreme’ selfies among the heights of some of the world’s tallest buildings.

“It’s really hard to explain, the … freedom, and, uh, it’s adrenaline. It’s, uh, something special. I feel heart beating. I feel my legs shaking, so … Yeah, it’s incredible … incredible feeling.”

The pair have climbed more than 500 buildings across Asia and Europe.

In a world hooked on social media, people are taking risks to impress their followers. More people have died from selfies in the past 5 years than sharks. This week, @AngelaCox7News discovers the lengths people are going to to get that “killer” shot. Sunday 8:30pm on @Channel7. pic.twitter.com/ypCo8fs9Oa

It’s the quest for the ultimate selfie.

It’s attention-seeking at its most dangerous.

In the case of Ivan and Angela, it also drives clicks (and advertising revenue) from their more than one million social media fans.

Is that what it it’s all about?

“We make enough for living beautiful life, for travel a lot. So, now we want to buy apartments in Moscow, so … We live beautiful. We like it, yeah.”

But not everyone is turning risky selfies into an income.

Mostly, the trend is growing trend among young tourists seeking to sell their dreams to friends and family.

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

Sunday Night also spoke with 26-year-old Scott Davis-Ingram who was recently caught scaling a building on the Gold Coast.

“It was scary, but it was worth the shot,” he said. “I try not to sweat. That’s probably one of the main things, is sweating, because sweaty hands — you’ll slip. And you’re gone.”

He said he was just as addicted to the attention he won from his social media posts as he was from the adrenaline of the risks.

Others, however, are ending up dead.

A man takes a selfie on a cliff.Source:istock

Such as US tourist Gavin Zimmerman who recently slipped and fell while posing for a selfie on a cliff south of Sydney.

One moment he was happy. Smiling. Among friends.

He posted one selfie to the internet before repositioning to take another.

The next moment, he was gone.

His father responded to the first post. By the time it chimed out on social media, his son was dead. But his dad didn’t know it.

“I didn’t hear anything for a half-hour … we said ‘well he’s busy’, and that kind of thing. And then I said, ‘I’ll talk to you next week, bud. Love ya.’ And then we get the knock on the door a few hours later …”

A group of people take an extreme risk by posing for a selfie in huge conditions at Mahon Pool, Maroubra. Picture: Glenn Duffus.Source:Supplied

ATTENTION SEEKERS

And the death toll is mounting.

It’s not about the thrill.

According to experts, it’s all about the drive behind the need to stand out — and win ‘likes’ — on Facebook, Instagram and any number of other social platforms

It’s self-promotion overriding commonsense.

According to researcher Dr Joanne Orlando, more than 250 deaths have been attributed to deadly ‘selfies’ since 2005.

“Around 80,000 images get uploaded to Instagram every 60 seconds,” Dr Orlando says, “so there’s massive competition. How do you get noticed? Well, you have to upload a photo people are really going to react to. It has to be something quite striking. You know, risky photos. They get a lot of engagement, so they get a lot of likes. They get a lot of comments.”