While many possess a high pain threshold, I possess a high threshold for embarrassment. Maybe some dark recessed memory from my bully-ridden childhood spawned my ability to drown any sense of shame with laughter and a witty joke… or maybe I’m just an overly confident asshole. Actually, yeah -- I think I’m just an asshole.
Emily likes to subject me to particularly heinous dares, knowing that I will always say yes because I love the attention. This time, she thought it would be funny to use a selfie stick all over New York in public.
I’m sure there are some weirdos that purchase selfie sticks to enhance the quality of their photos, but that’s stupid. Well, I guess I kind of get it -- The Stick is essentially an extension of your arm, turning you into a cool photo-cyborg. (Longer appendages could be advantageous. I wouldn’t mind having a longer neck to wear more necklaces, or longer teeth to eat apples more easily.) But… no. It’s still stupid. Just get a friend who also has arms to take the picture for you.
Honestly, this product is no more useful than a phone’s panorama feature, and is unnecessary for iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy users with large screens. Whatever, this isn’t an article about photography. Let’s get to the good stuff -- like how I experienced embarrassment for the first time while using a selfie stick.
Location #1: A RESTAURANT
I invited a couple friends to lunch at Le Pain, pretending I wanted to socialize when I really wanted to subject them to the horrors of The Stick. What advertisers fail to tell you is that The Stick makes all group pictures look beyond weird and uncomfortable. I expected the three of us to all fit perfectly within the frame… Nope. Instead we all painfully strained our necks to fit into each shot (most of which were blurry, because I nearly had to dislocate my shoulder to stretch The Stick out for a quivering aerial view) and I may or may not have a hernia now.
A huge factor of being an asshole is disregarding the pride of fellow social companions. Two seconds after removing the selfie stick from my bag, I was subjected to a barrage of profanity-laden protests punctuated with groans and eye-rolls, similar to the following:
“Oh my god, absolutely not.”
“This is the worst thing to ever happen.”
“I didn’t come here for this shit.”
“Just use your f***ing arm?!”
“Why are you doing this can you please stop Courtney please stop put it away stop please I hate you why please no…”
… and so on and so forth. When the selfie session was finally over, we had already burst into flames of self-induced humiliation. I never feel humiliated, but this was humiliating -- my ancestors were rolling in their graves.
Realistically, I don’t think anyone in the restaurant actually cared, but this did not stop me from blushing and slowly melting into a self-loathing puddle. The most horrifying part was discovering that I was capable of feeling so apologetically self-conscious. I had been tainted.
I can laugh about the situation now, but it took me about two days to recover from this episode (I considered backing down from the dare entirely). Eventually I snapped out of it, realizing that I would never see those restaurant patrons again. What was wrong with me? If I was going to annoy the general public, New York was the perfect place to do it -- a city full of strangers and creeps who disturb civilians on a daily basis.
One time I watched a guy in Madison Square Park dump a bag of birdfeed all over himself and calmly sit on a bench until his body was covered in pigeons. How many fucks do you think the Pigeon Man gives? Zero. I needed to be like him.
At this point, I itched to use this selfie stick in public just to cure myself of irrational insecurities. If I was going to get a reaction from using The Stick in public, I needed to go big.
Location #2: THE PARK
So, with my equally immodest friend Melissa in tow (she frequently posts Instagram videos of herself singing rap songs on the train… alone), we screamed, “THIS IS MY CITY!!!!!” throughout Central Park.
The experience was liberating, and so much fun that we didn’t want to stop. So we continued to film our shouts at unsuspecting pedestrians and squirrels, with The Stick capturing the beautiful snowy park scenery in the background.
I didn’t feel annoying at all screaming through the park. This entire act was so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but laugh, bursting at the seams with unadulterated, childish glee – a polar opposite feeling from my I’m-an-annoying-millenial shame experienced at Le Pain. New Yorkers were laughing, smiling, side-eying, and probably tweeting about the crazy women screaming through the park that day.
Location #3: YOGA CLASS
Now that I had finally offered the world my final fucks, I headed to an aerial yoga class at the Om Factory to photograph myself looking awesome. In case you didn’t know, aerial yoga is essentially the Cirque du Soleil of working out. The majority of the class is spent suspended from the ground, flipping around in giant ribbons like a circus ballerina.
Strangers to aerial are always so impressed by just the thought of it alone (cough, me) – I mean, just Google it and you’ll understand. I couldn’t wait to finally take a picture of myself in an elegant pose, mid-air, looking all lithe and athletic. I could just taste the Instagram likes. But then reality punched me in the face and this happened…
Well, never mind. It was worth a shot, but I look like a dolphin caught in a net. This picture is more deserving of a @thefatjewish Instagram meme than an envy-inducing Pinterest pin. I basically dislocated my pelvis for no reason.
Maybe my efforts were misdirected; I was taking the word “selfie” too literally. Yes, I am a work of art, but must I always be the star of a photo? Yes. I mean, no. I needed to allow my audience to take center stage.
Location #4: THE TRAIN
I was in the midst of reading on the D train when inspiration struck – well actually a subway performer struck the subway doors repeatedly amid promises of back flipping throughout the moving car. You would think that a gold-toothed stranger screaming about backflips is deserves a single glance, yet not one commuter moved a muscle. Seasoned New Yorkers are desensitized to grand displays of idiocy.
I took this fact as a challenge, slowly withdrew The Stick from my tote, and secured my iPhone into place. Then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I shot my arm into the air and started snapping wildly.
My jerky flailing seemed to be ignored until….
Wait for it…
Boom! Three eager subjects. The girl laughing to my right took a SnapChat video while I waved my arms in circles.
After four separate accounts of terrorizing the city, I thought my work was done – I had dutifully felt shame for the first time, screamed at innocent victims, and forced the public to become my art -- but Emily was still not satisfied.
Location #5: THE BAR
The final frontier of humiliating selfies took place somewhere new -- in a location surrounded by my peers and potential baby-daddies. On an unassuming weekday night, I brandished my selfie stick at a bar. Before I could take a single picture, a bartender asked if I had ever left my house before, and proceeded to label me as “the most annoying girl in the world.” I was asked to put the selfie stick away, a sign that my experiment had reached an end.
The Stick will probably end up lost somewhere in my room under piles of clothes, but at least it gave me something invaluable -- I finally understand the motivations of subway performers and the Pigeon Man. Unfortunately, I’m also less likely to feel embarrassed in public than ever before. Sorry guys, I’m still a dick.
Like all of Courtney’s selfies on Instagram @courtneypizza