Courtesy and common sense are crucial while taking selfies and other pictures

Featured image by tookapic, courtesy Pixabay

Updated March 17, 2019

During my travels, I notice how others take pictures. In today’s world of the always-present social media and smartphones, I’ve witnessed some uncourteous and often downright frightening moves—all in the quest to capture a perfect picture of the moment.

Here are three examples:

  • People cross barricades into homeowners’ yards to take selfies in front of the decorations along Peacock Lane in Portland, Oregon, during the holidays.
  • During the 2019 superbloom season in central and southern California, people are trampling the California poppy fields to get those perfect shots. Damaging and picking these endangered poppies are illegal.The City of Lake Elsinore took action on St. Patrick’s Day when traffic to the poppy fields in Walker Canyon overwhelmed their resources. Now Walker Canyon is closed to visitors until further notice. City officials are calling the situation a “poppy nightmare”, according to this report in the Los Angeles Times.
  • People are unaware of their surroundings while taking selfies. I’ve seen many near-misses by cars when pedestrians stepped into the street while taking a selfie. They’re lucky that the drivers were paying attention.

And then there are the reports from the radio and TV.

On the CBS Evening News Sunday night, I saw a report about a woman who was attacked by a female jaguar at the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, Arizona. The jaguar swiped the woman’s arm with her claws and caused some deep cuts. The jaguar attacked the woman, because she crossed a barrier into the jaguar area to take a selfie with the cat.

The woman was lucky that only her arm was injured.

At the end of the report, the reporter said that the zoo had no plans to euthanize the jaguar.

That comment concerned me. Why would anyone think about euthanizing an animal simply because someone intruded into her territory? Anyone who knows anything about jaguars knows that they can be aggressive. Their instincts kick in when there’s an intruder, so naturally they will do whatever they think they need to do to protect themselves. That’s how they survive.

This woman was intruding into the jaguar’s territory. So, naturally, the jaguar will respond. This was not the jaguar’s fault.

Last night, the CBS Evening News reported that the zoo would not euthanize the jaguar. Instead, zookeepers moved her to an area where she will not be exposed to the public.

And the woman who took the selfie apologized to the zoo.

Such picture-taking stunts aren’t limited to selfies. It happens when people are snapping pictures of each other.

The scariest incident I’ve seen of someone taking pictures of someone else was last year during a trip to central Washington. I stopped at a beautiful viewpoint on a remote mountain pass between Yakima and Ellensburg. A couple and I were the only three people at this viewpoint. The couple was taking pictures of the view with the woman in the pictures.

That sounds harmless, but there’s at least a 100-foot drop from this viewpoint, and the only barrier protecting anyone is a guardrail in the parking lot.

During the picture-taking, the woman stood on the guardrail and pretended to lose her balance while her male partner snapped pictures with his smartphone. If she had really lost her balance, she would have killed herself, and it would have taken a long time for anyone to retrieve her body because of the rugged terrian in this area.

Please use common sense when taking a picture. Sure, it’s nice to share your adventures on Instagram, Facebook, or whatever your favorite social media platform is. But no picture is worth destroying property and precious resources, getting hurt, risking your life, or placing others in harm’s way.

Think before you click.

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