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Selfies deadlier than sharks


Unusual activist: Most have been receptive to Deepak’s movement.

Unusual activist: Most have been receptive to Deepak’s movement.

A new movement aims to create awareness among youths about the cool but deadly shots.

TAKING an “adventurous” selfie can easily become a deadly affair these days.

A recent study found that at least 27 people around the world died from selfie-related accidents last year, with half of those deaths occurring in India.

Most recently, a 17-year-old boy in Chennai was knocked down by a train while attempting to take a selfie on the railway tracks.

Selfies are now considered to be even deadlier than sharks, with the number of selfie-related deaths in 2015 exceeding those caused by shark attacks.

Concerned about this alarming trend, digital marketing entrepreneur Deepak Gandhi was driven to initiate SelfieToDieFor, a movement to raise awareness and educate the public on the dangers of taking selfies at life-threatening locations.

On its website, www.selfietodiefor.org, members of the public can read and watch videos about the deadly outcomes of taking dangerous selfies, and subsequently sign the pledge to “Selfie Responsibly”.

“Upon signing the pledge, they will get a badge (pic) which mentions ‘I Pledge to Selfie Responsibly’ that can later be shared on Facebook or Twitter.

Irresponsible snap: Young women taking a risk to get a cool shot of the New Mosque in Istanbul. — Reuters
Irresponsible snap: Young women taking a risk to get a cool shot of the New Mosque in Istanbul. — Reuters

“This creates a viral effect and top-of-the-mind recall,” says Deepak, who conceptualised the idea for the campaign and got the website developed through his digital marketing agency, Cyberkoms Dgtal.

The idea for SelfieToDieFor was first conceived when Deepak spotted some youngsters taking selfies with a selfie stick while riding their bikes.

The first thought that sprang to his mind was that this was an extremely dangerous move which could jeopardise not only their lives, but also other passersby and vehicles.

“I was taken aback and didn’t know how to react at the time but I went home and did some research on selfie-related accidents.

“I found that no one worldwide had really done anything to create awareness about this dangerous issue,” the Mumbai-based activist tells Sunday Star.

Deepak feels the rising number of deaths attributed to selfies was significant enough for someone to take up the responsibility of raising awareness on the subject.

“That’s when I decided to do something. Even if I could save a life, anywhere in the world, with all my efforts it would be worth it. And SelfieToDieFor was born.”

Most people have been receptive to the campaign so far, such as the local police departments and colleges, where posters and stickers are displayed to remind youngsters to selfie responsibly.

However, not everyone is easily convinced by Deepak’s idea, especially people he approaches on the street who are in the middle of taking selfies.

“These are the people who are actually taking selfies out there, and if I interrupt them to talk about my movement, they say they don’t want another ‘dad’ in their life,” he says.

Others assume his campaign is against taking selfies altogether, but Deepak says this is not the case. In fact, he personally loves taking selfies.

“I have plenty of selfies on my phone. I’m only driving this movement to create awareness about life-threatening selfies, where people risk their lives for that one ‘cool shot’. That’s just not worth it,” he says.

Deepak believes the Indian authorities’ recent move to introduce “no-selfie zones” in several tourist areas should be followed by other countries, adding that there should be punishments for those caught selfying behind the wheel.

He is also seeking allies in the form of celebrities and stunt professionals to discourage risky selfies.

“On one occasion, I noticed a famous international sportsman who tweeted a selfie while driving a car. He had millions of followers and they could follow suit. I tweeted back requesting him not to encourage this,” he adds.

The SelfieToDieFor campaign has so far secured some 300 pledges while its Facebook page has received more than 2,000 likes.

Next, Deepak is hoping to reach out to a wider global audience, with the help of some investors of course.

His appeal to selfie-crazy youths is simple: “You need to be around to count the huge number of ‘likes’ on your selfie post, don’t you?”

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