Hong Kong Disneyland right to ban use of self-indulgent selfie sticks

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 12:50am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 July, 2015, 8:31am

The smartphone has given every person with a camera and a selfie stick a reason to photograph each occasion with themselves in front of it. But as ubiquitous as the metal rod has become, it can also obstruct, annoy and be dangerous. Disneyland, like some other theme parks, yesterday banned them and increasingly around the world, museums, art galleries and performance centres are telling visitors to put them away. It is all a matter of respect for others and safety.

Disney had found that too many rides were being delayed by inappropriate use of the sticks. Safety was being compromised and the lines for rides were made longer. But there had also been concern for the well-being of the theme park's performers, some of whom had felt threatened by unruly visitors wielding the sticks. They are the same reasons another Hong Kong attraction, Ocean Park, has restricted their use.

But the sticks are not just confined to theme parks: they appear whenever there is a need to prove a personal presence. At family gatherings they can be fun, especially when trying to squeeze the entire group into the frame. At museums and art galleries, though, they can get in the way of other visitors' enjoyment. Imagine trying to take in the subtlety of a French master, only to have a fellow patron momentarily leap in front, selfie stick at arm's length, and grin inanely at you.

This has happened one time too many at some London and New York attractions and is the reason why Paris museums, including the Louvre, are considering following suit with bans. The latter's most famous exhibit, the Mona Lisa, has become as known for the sea of sticks clustered in front of the Renaissance classic by Leonardo da Vinci as the wry smile of its subject. The ability to appreciate exhibits is being compromised and a careless user could cause damage.

Not every experience needs to have a pictorial record - and especially not the same grinning person beside or in front of it. At some places the sticks can be a danger and threat; in others, a hindrance to enjoyment and calm contemplation.