'Selfie', one of the newest additions to the English language, was surprisingly Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year in 2013. And why wouldn't it be? The concept took the world by storm. From little kids to grannies, everyone wanted to click a picture of themselves on their own while doing something 'interesting'. However, this phenomenon is not strictly modern. The first ever selfie dates back to 1839 by Robert Cornelius, who wrote at the back of the image, "The first light Picture ever taken. 1839." But the innocent gimmick has now evolved into a dangerous sport. People are now challenging themselves to take extreme selfies - while peeping over a cliff or while riding a two-wheeler! Turns out, the situation in our country is the worst with India accounting for 50% of selfie related fatalities in the world. The official government data revealed that one road accident related death happens every four minutes in India, not a good figure to live with in a civilised society. So, why does it happen and what can be done to stop this madness?
According to a recent survey conducted by Samsung, nearly 60% of Indian two-wheeler users admit to 'instinctively' answering their mobile phones while riding, about 14% of pedestrians take selfies while crossing the road. Where does this lackadaisical attitude towards one's own safety crop from? Social media has forced a large section of the society to make their lives look happening, and the least that can be done is make it look so virtually.
Road users must realise that by doing such acts, of what they think is daredevilry, they put themselves and others' lives in jeopardy. It is sad that people have to be told to be careful, not to indulge in selfies during riding or crossing the road or driving. This is something that should arise out of a feeling of self-preservation.
The situation has now dilapidated so much that mobile phones have to be taught to help their humans deal with such urges. Some smart phones now come with a 'bike mode' which once turned on allows the user to take an urgent call by pressing 1, but only when the bike stops.
“Irresponsible usage of mobile phones, including the new trend of taking selfies on the road, is becoming one of the major causes of road accidents today. We want to bring down the annual road accident fatality figure of 1.5 lakh, which is the highest in the world, by 50%. For this, we are already working on a multi-pronged strategy but need a lot of support from industry to be successful," Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping, said.