26.

You Will Mock, Then Purchase a Selfie Stick

Hey, if it’s good enough for Beyoncé…

By Lindsey Weber

The first time I saw a selfie stick in action, I was wandering around Brooklyn Bridge park down by the water. Two young tourists pivoted their rod into the sky, a smartphone perched on top. It was perfect: They smiled; they made silly faces; they held up peace signs. New Yorkers looked on and scoffed. I can say that because I scoffed — and I even took a photo, posting it straight to my Instagram with a simple (but essentially mocking) caption: “selfie stick lol” (Yes, I am very good at Instagram). “Ha-ha, wait ‘til my followers get a load of that,” I thought to myself, like the biggest asshole in the entire universe. But those two happily ignored me, snapping away and giggling as they arranged the perfect shots. Fuck. It looked like so much fun.

About four hours and 14 likes later (a pretty pathetic amount, so much for the cynicism), I was Googling “selfie sticks,” curious about their mechanics, curious about how I could buy one. It’s a genius item really: A retractable rod (think the base of a tripod), with a flexible mount that expands to fit whatever smartphone you’ve got. (You can even upgrade “premium” sticks with built-in Bluetooth buttons that connect to your phone’s shutter. I recommend this one.) I learned that while TIME named the selfie stick one of 2014’s best inventions, it also popped up on old lists like “The 23 Craziest Japanese Inventions You Never Knew Existed” alongside a “book-shaped pillow for sleepy students” and “a square watermelon”. Per usual, Americans were late to the selfie stick parade. Japanese people had been using these things for years. Finally, our hoverboard had arrived.

Back to The Future is just a movie, I thought to myself, adding the selfie stick to my Amazon cart. It joined a four-pack of Five Hour Energy, a 3-cup rice cooker, Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, and a Himalayan air-purifying salt lamp. All the type of things you add to your Amazon cart after 12 A.M. All things I needed, desperately. With the selfie stick, I expected was a conversation piece; I got a conversation pièce de résistance.

Pulling out a selfie stick first involves a big risk. You will elicit groans or heavy sighs—or maybe nothing at all if this is the kind of thing your friends expect of you (in that case, go you!) You might even get called…a millennial. (Which, oops, you definitely are.) You’ll have to prod a little, show off the device’s mechanics to your confused aunt and uncle, even move to a room with slightly higher ceilings. But as soon as you get snapping, the selfie stick automatically becomes the event’s main attraction. Group shots become easy to arrange, no need to worry about anyone’s height differentials if you get your angles correct. And speaking of angles, if you remember your MySpace days, you silly millennial, the selfie stick’s natural top-down vantage is quite flattering. It also solves the age-old dilemma of extended arms accidentally appearing in selfies. In college, we called this phenomenon “fat arm,” the goal being to slightly bend your elbow enough so that your upper arm wouldn’t show in the photo. (“You can see yourself, and you look prettier,” Tarsila Ferreira told the New York Post. She’s not wrong!)

All of this, plus the fact that the selfie stick is made for vacationing. Never again stop to ask a stranger to take your photo. For one thing, people hate being asked. With the selfie stick, you can completely eliminate strangers fumbling with your phone or camera, while they try to figure out how to focus before ultimately catching some sort of glare that makes everyone look like garbage. Or! They run off with your brand new iPhone 6.

Despite the endless cycle of trend-speak, selfies have really been around forever. And it’s pretty great that we continue to advance them. Because basically as soon as the camera were invented, we’re still figuring out more and more ways to take flattering photos of ourselves. Still not into it? Well, Beyoncé uses selfie sticks. So now you have to:

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