What Are You Thinking, Selfie-Stick Man?
Henry Wismayer

It’s just really immature, self-important, and in the case of experiencing a Michelangelo in real life, nearly sacrilegious. I don’t know when this phenomenon started, but having been to Uffizi and seen some of the Masters, I’m so grateful this wasn’t a thing two years ago. Looking through a lens, at yourself, with this “stuff” in the background, you may not feel the power and emotion those masterpieces evoke. Maybe it’s a flight from intimacy. I remember being overwhelmed and moved to tears at these galleries. The only picture I have is of my husband as we walked out. Sharing with and connecting to a piece of art is something immature selfish people just aren’t really good at.

  • It also could be the reality-fake/fake-reality/hyper-reality culture that we’re evolving into. And I’ve got to admit, I didn’t take one picture inside Uffizi or the Louvre or any of the amazing museums we went, and I felt so friggin lame for it when I came back!! Everybody’s looking through my pictures like, where’s all the shit you saw?? These are all landscapes and close ups of food! I felt so invalidated by my peers, when internally I’d had a very impactful, rich experience in my travels. Stuff I’d never even be able to articulate aloud. But my most recent trip to Europe was lame, as evidenced by my lack of opportunistic selfies and my unwillingness to trample on somebody else’s culture. I mean, the relics! Like – why would I want a picture in front of some saint’s dead bones? That’s wrong. So why are some of us compelled to deface these wonders of the world with our own greasy mugs? But it’s how we validate and value these experiences. I can’t just have it inside me, trapped in my memories or my heart, it’s my duty to get on top of it and throw up a peace sign or flip a bird or something.

Sigh ok full disclosure (and this is tough to admit): I do have a selfie (old school, disposable camera style) somewhere of me standing with my back to a crowd ogling the Mona Lisa in Paris – while also flipping the bird. I was feeling raunchy. I was 19. And I was pissed off too because I’d just discovered that half the time – for security’s sake – they don’t even showcase the original, but a reproduction. All the other tourists were snapping their $4000 flash cameras at the thing, and I was just disgusted. It was seriously like lightning in that corner, for all the flash photography going on. I balked at their worship of a painting that might not be the real thing. I was also disgusted that if it is the real thing, all those people would risk damaging it by using the flash on their cameras. It seemed so trite, not to mention suspicious on the part of the museum. My disrespect was some kind of adolescent protest. I was protesting the same thing that I’m protesting now, kinda, just how ignorant we are and how caught up we get on crap that’s not even real. I injected my smirk into that photo just to say, “hey look at these jerk-offs, I’m so much better than this”, and I’m ashamed. But the cameras did ruin my experience. So yeah, screw the selfie-stick man, and ban cameras from all museums everywhere.

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