Spear -> Selfie

This morning in reviewing the RSS feeds I came across an article on the selfie stick.[Link]

I do not own one – although I have taken selfies, mostly for recent head shots requested by colleagues or organizations and I am too (mumble) to ask someone else to take. Why should my ‘ugly mug’ take up their useful time and attention span – but I have given them to SCPdatter as a Solstice present. Chalk that one up to lack of imagination and delusions about contemporary social currents.

The article is rather good, an able example of the fabled British understatement. But it gave me pause to wander off along a different drunkard’s walk, at least mentally. Technically a selfie stick (as opposed to a selfie shtick) is a tool, one of a long line of ‘stick’ tools.

It may even be argued that the stick, as oppose to the rock, is the original tool. Several species, not all primates, have used sticks to extract arthropods from nests for ingestion. (That’s nerd talk for ‘eat bugs’!) The spear (stick + rock) has been advanced (by me?) as the critical tool enabling the beginning of warfare. The idea is that until a weapon that can be either project or used at hand was developed, warfare was limited to bloody brawls. And the hurled rock lacked the right aerodynamics.

Since then the stick has been central to human society and civilization. The bow and arrow are sticks augmented with rocks and feathers and sinew. The lance is a stick and the rifle is a stick augmented with with a tube and chemistry. For much of civilization the walking stick (cane) has been both a physical augmentation and a fashion accessory. Many non-military tools are stick based, e.g., the hammer, although it is basically a rock augmented with a stick, as is the axe.

So the selfie stick is a tool. But why? What work is being done? Work has two aspects: it must have value to society, or a part of it, and to the worker. This is where things get confusing. Or, at least, complicated. The selfie stick is fundamentally a GEN Y tool. Yes, it is used by others, but its origin and development is fundamentally a GEN Y thing. From this we may conjecture that the selfie is fundamentally a GEN Y thing for expressing something inherently human but strengthened in GEN Ys.

The confusing part emerges when one considers that GEN Ys are more friend (in embarrassingly large numbers) oriented. And they delight in taking photographs of their immediate collectiveness. But how to take a picture of everyone without leaving anyone out? Or asking an auslander to take the picture since auslanders are ‘ewh’ and “gross” and not members of the group. The patent answer is the selfie stick. It permits a group (admiittedly small but that is more a matter of cellular telephone camera optics than stick length) picture without the memory (if it stays, but that is another matter) being sullied by the odoriferous interaction with some barbarian (in the classic Greek sense.)

This is the crux that rather proves the pudding. GEN Y rather prides itself on how it treasures diversity and is inherently averse to “ism”s whether they be sex or gender or race or what not. But it shows itself unable to let one of “Them” take a picture of “Us” in the classical human psychology/anthropology thing of Us-versus-Them. So contrary to some claims of my colleagues, GEN Ys are human, after all, displaying bias and exclusion in their most evident tool.

The extension to the individual is almost trivial except for explaining why they don’t ask in-group friends to snap them? Could it be the same as my reason or is it because they are unable to exclude anyone in their in-group? I consider the latter significant and perhaps insightful.