Posting irrational selfies, Instagram reels, or brief stunt videos is a contemporary trend.


NEW DELHI: Social media users frequently disregard the rising trend of selfie/video-related injuries. A few days ago, a video went viral showing a student in Telangana being admitted to a hospital following an unsuccessful attempt to capture a quick clip for Instagram near a railroad track. He could be seen wandering aimlessly along the track in the footage until suddenly, a fast train critically injures him. Similar to the previous occurrence, three teenagers were hit by a train in April 2022 while shooting an Instagram reel near the railway tracks. Such stunts are entirely prohibited near or on railway premises under railway policy guidelines that clearly states, “No photography/videography shall be undertaken near running locomotives or by travelling on footboards/rooftops of a train.” However, the policy clearly fails to put strict regulations in place outside of railroad station premises and adjacent railway areas.
Psychologists believe that immediate endorsement or acknowledgement from other social media users, which can lead to sudden fame, frequently causes the rise in such reckless attitudes. Dr Yatan Balhara, Additional Professor of Psychiatry, AIIMS, New Delhi, told The Sunday Guardian, “The fundamental issue is that we judge our abilities based on the opinions of others. Posting a picture is not unhealthy, but the main cause of the issue is becoming fixated on how many people like or comment on it. Following that, making an extra effort and stepping outside of your comfort zone to post unusual content that does not encourage safe or appropriate behaviour is what is causing these accidents.”
Posting irrational selfies, Instagram reels, or brief stunt videos is a contemporary trend, but the craze for ‘killfie’ (selfies shot in excessively risky situations) dates back to 2011 when a Canadian named Tom Ryaboi posted a photo of his dangling feet over the edge of a building in Toronto. The trend has been continuing, popularly known as “Rooftopping”. In order to fit into the definition of “cool” appearances, the new generation of Instagram users—particularly millennials and Gen Z—are honing the art of performing stunts like carelessly posing on top of buildings and reckless video shooting activities near, in, on, or under trains, bikes, cars, and other objects.
A journal titled ‘Selfies-A boon or bane?’ published by the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care states that between 2014 and 2016, selfie deaths have been constantly rising. India has accounted for the highest number of selfie-related deaths followed by Russia, the USA and Pakistan and the major causes are drowning, clicking selfies nearby moving transport and falling from rooftops.
Taking this into account in 2018, Goa has listed 24 no-selfie zones. On a similar note, Mumbai lists 16 spots as no-selfie zones, including Marine Drive and Girgaum Chowpatty. Similarly, Gujarat has also declared Satpura Hill station and other tourist spots as a no-selfie zone.
Nevertheless, children and teens, vulnerable to performing such challenges for instant fame, often fail to realise the consequences of such acts, if failed. Speaking of this in detail, Dr Niharika Saini, a clinical psychologist at Accord Super Speciality Hospital, Faridabad, told this paper, “Social media challenges give people a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves and the same emotions make one feel connected to a charitable viral challenge making people motivated to perform or participate in viral trends that could be dangerous. Clearly, a line needs to be drawn with social media platforms too and some regulations need to be in place.”