Sharks are scary. They’ve starred in dozens of movies I’ve never seen. They get a whole week on the Discovery channel. According to Conde Nast Traveler, 2015 was a record-setting year for reported attacks on humans – 98 around the world.
Those attacks produced six deaths, which makes the shark far less deadly than … the selfie. There were at least 10 reported photography-related deaths of tourists last year. Jennifer Booton reports for MarketWatch:
Two travelers reportedly died in different instances in Peru recently while standing too close to the cliff ledge while posing for a photo. Last week, a 51-year-old man died when losing his balance at the edge of a cliff at Machu Picchu, in an area closed off to the public. He fell 130 feet. Prior to that, a South Korean tourist fell in northern Peru while taking a selfie at the Gochta waterfall, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. He plunged more than 1,600 feet.
There is a Wikipedia page devoted to chronicling death-by-selfie, going far beyond the tourist angle. One of the latest entries: “On June 3, DaMontez Jones, 15, shot and killed himself while attempting to take a selfie at home with his father’s gun.” (This happened in Overland, Missouri, in the St. Louis area. According to the newspaper story, DaMontez’s grandmother said he was “real smart”; some may beg to differ.)
Ms. Booton’s conclusion:
The development of front-facing cameras on smartphones and growth in popularity of social media sites, such as Instagram, have created a culture that values risk-taking when seeking the perfect shot while traveling. In the hiking, traveling, backpacking and extreme sports worlds, that often means putting oneself in dangerous situations, such as slacklining between canyons, standing on cliff ledges, climbing trees, or pushing beyond boundaries.
In other words, the 2016 version of a redneck’s typical last words: “Hey y’all, watch me do this.”