Disney has banned selfie sticks (cameras mounted on poles to enable cell or tablet self-portraits at events and attractions), starting this week. Dozens of museums and sporting events worldwide have already banned the sticks.

As Nick Mediati notes at PC World, 

For Disney, the ban is all about visitor safety. Disney World’s Kim Prunty tells the Sentinel that “selfie-sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast.”

Ineed, the Orlando Sentinel reports,

Several incidents preceded the change, but officials have been discussing the rules for some time, Disney said. This week at Disney California Adventure park, a roller coaster was halted after a passenger pulled out a selfie-stick. The ride was closed for an hour. 

The issue isn’t just lost revenue. The critical concern, with vehicles of all kinds, is that the passenger becomes physically unbalanced in pursuit of a photogenically perfect self. Digitized film that survives a death plunge might make a good handout at the passenger’s funeral, but it isn’t good publicity for the attraction.

And allowing the selfie stick isn’t a proactive legal strategy in the event of a lawsuit in, say, the death of a minor or bystander. (Of course, if a visitor is using such a device contrary to park rules, the management is in a much safer legal position. Hence the ban.)

But isn’t there also a “civilization” issue here?

Consider: The stick’s popularity is inevitable when we consider how much the selfie itself has invaded our society. World leaders such as Barack Obama and Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt were taking fun selfies at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013.

Other attendees looked sober, if not somber, as they “selfie-lessly” contemplated a South Africa without the man who refused to start a race war in revenge for apartheid.

Perhaps it was an inevitable development. One impact of the Internet and social media is that curiosity is now much more easily satisfied. People are not as likely to cherish the chance to see something new for the first time.

We have already experienced Disney World, for example, in a number of ways before we visit. When we do visit, we mainly want to see ourselves there. That’s what’s really new for us, and Lord knows, we never get tired of ourselves, even when everyone else has long since lost interest.

Never mind that we distract or bump into others or cause them to become nervous about the risks of an accident, in the pursuit of a stardom that never was and never should have been.

Yes, it’s a bad trend. I am not sure what to do about it, apart from banning selfie sticks from polite or civilized gatherings of any kind.

PC World’s Nick Mediati adds, “With all that in mind, when you go on vacation this summer, maybe you should leave the selfie stick behind and instead use the selfie sticks that we’re all born with—your arms.” Right on, Nick.


Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...