Wilder and wilder for clicks and likes

Maysoon El-Ahmad on Mar 5, 2019


  • Once upon a time bungee jumping or skydiving was considered brave. Then along came base jumping. Then climbing K2 to freestyle ski down to the valley.
  • Now we have even riskier stunts such as cliff jumping, backflipping on high buildings and rope swinging from extreme heights.
  • Each generation seeks to be braver than the last – faster, higher, scarier, deeper, longer.
  • What’s driving this phenomenon of thrill-seeking adventure and bravery? Two words. Social media.
  • Social media and new personal devices such as ‘Go pro’ cameras are creating new ways for us to earn ‘social currency’ or ‘bragging rights’ among friends and strangers alike.
  • The madder the better all in the name for an online audience, more likes, clicks, hits and followers.
  • While most adrenaline seeking travellers cause little harm to themselves and the world, the trend is leading to some tragic outcomes.
  • After a worldwide search of media reports, a study published in October 2018 in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care found that 259 people had died taking selfies between October 2011 and November 2017.
  • According to the study, “the main causes of these ‘selfie deaths’ were drowning, usually involving people being washed away by waves or falling from a boat, followed by people killed while posing in front of a moving train, deaths involving falls from high places or while taking pictures with dangerous animals”.

Below is a glimpse of some of the tragic events in just the last 6-8 months

  • Three vloggers affiliated with the online brand ‘High on Life’ that promotes travel and adventurous lifestyle died after an accident at Shannon Falls in Canada. They fell about 100 feet while swimming in a pool. The social media personalities were known for posting stunning videos and photos of daring feats and travel.
  • Also late last year a 50 year old thrill-seeker fell to his death in Portugal at the cliffs at Nazare after hitting the ground at 100mph when his parachute failed to open. The cliffs are a popular spot for base jumpers who usually upload their achievement onto social media.
  • Jackson Coe, a 25 year old American thrill-seeker ‘Instagram daredevil’ who posted pictures of himself doing backflips on top of skyscrapers was found dead at the back of a six-floor apartment building in the West Village in Manhattan, New York.

259 people had died taking selfies between October 2011 and November 2017.  


  • We see no end to the underlying human motivation that drives Instagrammability in the future.
  • To overcome the growing trend in ‘selfie deaths’, we believe no different to the problem of ‘overtourism’, governments will be forced to intervene. We expect to see new restrictions put in place in destinations categorised as ‘hot spots’ where tourists may no longer be permitted to take cameras along, however, we expect this to be difficult to enforce particularly in public areas.
  • Scientists are already calling for ‘no selfie zones’ across many tourist areas, particularly water bodies, mountain peaks and over tall buildings.
  • We see a not too distant future of a new industry emerging selling training programs, developing skills and selling props aimed at ‘taking selfies in the most dangerous parts of the world without dying’ – think ‘the safe selfie kit for Daredevils’ developed by Bear Grylls!
  • We are already seeing politicians in Ireland calling for the “implementation of special seating units at certain high-up sites to prevent accidents and boost tourism.”
Growth Mantra
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