Photo Kit: Making selfies easier with the Tongsis

  • TECH
  • Monday, 14 Apr 2014


I know it's been building up for awhile, but it seems that selfies are now a "thing" especially since Ellen DeGeneres' epic selfie at the Academy Awards this year.

These days of course, with smartphones and cameras with flip out screens that can face forward, taking a selfie has never been easier — you just hold out the camera, check yourself out and snap away. The front-facing screens in smartphones and some modern cameras allow you to make sure you get your expression just right.

Some cameras even allow you to automatically snap a photo when they detect your smile or a wink.

In fact, at every tourist spot or eating place you go to these days, you'd be hard pressed NOT to find somebody taking a selfie.

On a recent trip to Cambodia, however, I actually met a female journalist who's one of a younger wave of reporters that have taken the selfie to a new level with what's known as a selfie monopod.

Now you may or may not have seen one of these things before, but it's essentially a lightweight monopod with either a standard camera mounting point (if you have a small compact camera) or a spring clip (for mounting phone without a tripod screw thread).

The selfie monopod allows you to extend the camera out further than the normal reach of your arm so that you can take in more of the background scenery when shooting your selfie, or alternatively, include more people in the shot.

So this journalist was taking pictures of herself using this selfie monopod at the various locations that we visited — other than our initial amusement at seeing it, there's nothing wrong with that.

What was interesting and even funnier was that at point one of the Indonesian journalists who saw her using it commented that in Indonesia, they have a special name for the selfie monopod, and it's "Tongsis."  

He went on to elaborate that the word "Tongsis" is an amalgamation of the words "tongkat narsis" which is literally translated into English as a "narcissist-stick"!

I can't imagine a more apt description and name for a selfie monopod than this — in fact, when he eventually stopped laughing, our host at the event said that the name was so fitting that it was like an epiphany when he first heard it.

At the end of the trip, all of us, including the female journalist who owned the newly dubbed Tongsis, agreed that we should popularise the term in Malaysia and use it as the official name for the selfie monopod in this country as well.

Perhaps if enough of us refer to it as a Tongsis or a tongkat narsis, it'll go viral and eventually end up in the official Kamus Bahasa Malaysia.  

What say you? Next time you see someone using a selfie monopod, tell the person next to you that it's a Tongsis and explain why!

(Photo Kit is a fortnightly online column in which Tan Kit Hoong ( shares his thoughts on the art and technology behind cameras at

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