Dubai: Taking a selfie is pretty much a norm today, with a host of new smart-phones that come with advanced cameras that can make you look like you have never looked before.
While many people take selfies, use 'Beauty' filters to smooth their skin out and look good for the 'gram, the act of taking a selfie photo is not always safe depending on where you are.
In the aftermath of the young girl who died in Dubai after falling off her balcony in an attempt to capture a selfie, we spoke to UAE residents about the selfie trend and its dangers.
"I almost fell, I was scared"
Sakina Feroz, 27, a Dubai-based Indian expat working as a PR manager, said she almost fell of the Jebel Jais mountain this February while trying to take a selfie.
“I was off-roading with my friends in February. We all lined up close to the tip of the mountain to try and take a selfie. We were all standing in a line and I happened to take a step back. My friend just held my hand and yelled at me for not noting we were on the tip of the mountain. It scared the hell out of me.”
Sakina said she has not taken a selfie since. “Before this incident I was obsessed about taking pictures and selfies. I had just lost a lot of weight and I wanted to capture myself in all my new outfits and clothes,” she added.
But all this changed, said the young Indian. “I realised my life was more important than anything else.”
"It's my job"
Henna Karzai, 25, a Dubai-based American expat with Afghan origins who is a beauty and fashion influencers admits to taking selfies all day long.
She said, “It is my job. I have to do it. As an influencer my job is to influence everything – from the clothes I wear, the make-up I use, the hair-style I wear. I promote brands so I have to be in the know-how and the way to do it is taking picture and selfies.”
It is her [Henna’s] source of income. “Unfortunately, influencing now is a job and we do take a bit of risk to take the best photos with the best lightings and selfies are a big part of the game,” she added.
Henna said location is key and the more adventurous it is the more exciting the picture looks.
About her own adventurous clicks, she added, “I once climbed up a tree to take a picture. For many influencers taking a picture from the tip of a mountain makes for a great click.”
“Having said that, I would caution everyone to be responsible while taking a photo. Your life is more important than anything else.”
"There is a fine line"
British expat Alexandra Saikkonen-Williams, 33 admits to taking selfies too. “The beauty of selfies is all the incredible filters you can use to make yourself look prettier and better. The impression you give to the world is far from the reality –thanks to all the advanced technology.”
She said it puts one into a whole new different world – away from reality. “It is the best thing that has happened especially for women. Some phones have beauty filters switched on while taking a selfie. It makes you look whiter, your eyes look brighter. Imagine!”
She said selfie obsessions have pushed many to become influencers as it gives them a perfect excuse to take all the pictures they like taking.
But there is a fine line that needs to be drawn. “Have a balance. Don’t obsess over it and over do what you are doing. I feel like telling people sometimes – hey you’re pretty, calm down, don’t take a selfie every five minutes.”
The role of parents
Denise Bonnici, 40, Australian, said she was saddened by the news of a young girl who last week plunged to death trying to take a selfie. The mother of four (19, 14, 12, 10) said she sent the news links to her children. “But they already knew about it from the school. The school has spoken to them about the incident.”
“I personally don’t take selfies but my children do. So I have been talking to them a lot about.”
She said parents can do their bit to spend more time with their children and talk to them about taking responsible pictures.
“Children love to post pictures on social media and we cannot stop them from doing it a lot. But as parents we can talk to them every now and then and teach them to be responsible on social media,” said Denise.
Living in the moment
Debrie Dela Cruz, 32, who works as an advertising professional in Dubai said the need to fit in and be a part of the new society is pushing people to take more and more selfies. “The world is full of influencers who love to project a world that sometimes may not be the reality or maybe the reality. But it is all done through pictures.”
“I just wish people would relax a bit more and live in the moment,” he said.
I don't take selfies
For Irish expat, Nikki Carol, 46, she hates taking a selfie. “I take very few. It is usually at the dinner table with the family, that too for a special occasion. Never otherwise. I am totally against it.”