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Selfie Deaths: Yeah, Maybe We Should Stop Gleefully Reporting Them?

By Kate Hudson | News | April 18, 2019 |

By Kate Hudson | News | April 18, 2019 |


Lately there has been a rash of selfie deaths in the news—where people (although it’s usually reported in detail only if it happens to young women) die trying to get that perfect shot of themselves. It happened last weekend to two such women: Andrea Norton, who died in the Ozarks, falling off a cliff, and Sydney Monfries, who fell off a bell tower—each were trying to capture the moment for posterity on their camera phones and took a wrong step that ended in their death.

Jill Filipovic wrote an Op-Ed for CNN today, in response to the seemingly gleeful descriptions of how these women died:

The coverage of these two tragedies has been less than solemn. Norton, some early news reports said, died taking a selfie (it actually seems she fell after doing what millions of Americans do every day: positioning herself for a photo in a beautiful place).

Meanwhile, Monfries died, according to one lurid headline, “while trying to get Instagram photos” (authorities have offered no indication that taking pictures led her to fall). Meanwhile, a major US network headlined a piece “Selfie leads to two women’s deaths;” elsewhere on the internet, commenters on the many news stories about these women’s deaths were remarkably callous.

The implication, framed subtly in the headlines and blatantly in the comments, is clear: These two young women were so self-involved and vain that they didn’t notice they were inches from danger until it was too late

Friends, she’s not wrong here.

Just last week two men died falling from the Grand Canyon, at least one, a suspected selfie death, but you don’t see their picture plastered across CNN, or being mocked in comments section of outlets that report on it.

(Fun fact, 64 fatal falls have been recorded in the park’s history—15 of which were female, 49, male.)

There’s just something about our wretched society where we love to put immense pressure on women to look good, stay young, and be available for the constant gaze of anyone who feels entitled to their personhood, but when any woman buys into this, she’s mocked and derided, because how dare she want any of it?

There’s a certain type of person who just loves it when bad, avoidable, things happen to a woman because then they get to point and laugh because she had it coming. Make no mistake, these people always think we have it coming no matter what the circumstance.

If these women had only stayed home, they would be alive. If only they had gotten their heads out of their phones and engaged in society, none of this would have happened. This is all, entirely, on them. What did they expect?!

Hey, here’s another fun fact for you: homicide is a leading cause of death for women ages 20-44 in America although that number drops out of the top 10 once society deems us unf*ckable. It’s the third leading cause of death for women ages 20-24. Here’s yet another fun (I lost my thesaurus, maybe I mean depressing?) fact, via CBS News:

“…female homicide victims often die at the hands of men they know. More than half of the women who were murdered in 2017 worldwide were slain by an intimate partner or family member, according to the United Nations’ recent Global Study on Homicide. Eighty-two percent of homicide victims targeted by intimate partners are women.”

So what’s the point I’m trying to make?

Living on social media, being on our phones, curating our lives for our followers—it’s all a form of escape in a world that doesn’t offer a lot of forms of it to women. On social media you can block the trolls and live in a nicer world where you get to decide what gets showcased. Where things aren’t so bad. Where you can feel pretty and desirable, and your pictures can be filtered, and you’re at least in control of your image to a degree you can never have out in the real world. I don’t blame anyone for trying to live in a nicer world where they’re more in control, especially young women—and I certainly don’t laugh at their death when something horrible happens when they make a fatal mistake.

Selfies aren’t a new thing—friends, some of the oldest records of art we have are cave drawings that people did of their damn hands aka ancient selfies.

Women get mocked because they do something everyone does (men take selfies, too. I know, I know, I’m shocked as much as you are—I mean, hell, they even make portraits of themselves. Just ask that guy Picasso, or van Gogh), and have done, since before human history was recorded. Men die doing it, too. Yet it’s the women that get reported on so mercilessly.

…maybe we should stop that?

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Kate is a staff contributor. You can follow her on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Getty