Selfie Bans Are Becoming a Thing


Rhode Island's Bryant University is making headlines after the school asked students to refrain from taking selfies when they go to pick up their degree.

The university's president, Ronald Machtley, says that he's fine with grads snapping photos during the ceremony, as long as they're not up at the podium. But if every single one of the 800 graduating students stopped to selfie their big moment, it would take up too much time and make the ceremony run long.

Although Bryant's ban isn't a firm one – they're asking politely, not ordering – it marks a trend in venues requesting that people put their phones away. Last year, the New York Times reported that some chic New York City restaurants were banning customers from Instagramming their food, saying that the constant phone use was distracting other patrons.

"It even became a distraction for the chef," said Moe Issa, who runs Brooklyn restaurant The Chef's Table. The intimate restaurant has one large table shared by all the patrons, which makes it very noticeable — and annoying — if guests decide they want to snap pictures of their meal. "It’s hard to build a memorable evening when flashes are flying every six minutes," he added.

And sometimes photo-taking can go from mildly annoying to majorly hurtful. The Hong Kong marathon has asked runners not to take pictures of themselves on the course after a multi-person collision last year caused by selfie-ing participants who ran into each other. Though the event's organizers acknowledged that it would be almost impossible to ban runners from bringing their smartphones, they've asked everyone to be more considerate for this year's race.

"For the race itself we will have officials to hold some message boards to remind people not to take photos at the start, on the route or at the finish because it is dangerous," a marathon official said. "What we've been trying to do is to get the message across to take care of yourself and to take care of other runners."

Even though selfies look like they're not going away anytime soon – Ellen's star-studded selfie at the Oscars broke records on Twitter – bans like the one at Bryant University or at the Hong Kong Marathon may help selfie culture to develop a form of etiquette. Shaming blogs like Selfies At Funerals called attention to the way that some people take selfies at places that might be inappropriate.

There aren't hard and fast rules about when and where to take pictures. But it couldn't hurt to remember that sometimes the experience is worth more than the photo of the experience.