Pick-up sticks: Selfie-takers overcome ridicule

Love them or hate them, everyone has an opinion on the selfie stick.

The devices allow people to take photos of themselves with their phones at more them arm’s length, improving the snapshot. Some mobile users are snapping them up, while others see users as object of ridicule – though so far there haven’t been enough naysayers to stop the selfie stick boom.

Shop owners say the sticks are catching on in Myanmar just as they are in the rest of the world.

Users, especially young people, enjoy taking photos of themselves with different backgrounds to share on social media. The selfie stick makes it easier to include more people in a group photo or get the picture-perfect background by extending the camera up to 60 centimetres further away from a selfie-taking subject than would otherwise be possible. Although the photos might be better as a result, users must battle through the perception that they look a little ridiculous.

“I like my selfie stick because it lets me take photos without help. If I’m travelling alone, this stick helps make memories and is my good partner,” said Ma Cho Lae Yee, 18.

Other users like them because they cut out the photographer – often a friend with poor photography skills – and allow them to take the photo themselves.

A selfie stick – generally made in China and imported to Myanmar – costs about K10,000 at local shops, though different models range between K8000 and K20,000.

Ko Htun, owner of one Yangon mobile shop, said there is more business in selfie sticks compared to other phone accessories like cases and headsets.

“This month, selfie stick sales have been brisk,” he said. “Youth are buying and selling them faster than you think.”
It is not only Yangon that saw a sudden spike in sales of selfie sticks recently. Ko Zarni, owner of Tar Tar Mobile shop and also a distributor of products outside Yangon, said they have been catching on in other places.

Ko Zarni said he sells about 30 sticks a week, with the majority of buyers being young men and women between 18 and 25.

Not everyone is so keen on the new devices, however.

Daw San San Htwe, 35, said it’s a young person’s tool. She added it is a little embarrassing to even watch them in action.

“I don’t like taking selfie photos, let alone using a selfie stick,” she said. “Sometimes I see young girls taking 7 or 10 photos in different positions in a restaurant, so much that it makes me go cross-eyed.”

Others are keen on selfies, but haven’t yet come to terms with the addition of a stick.

Ma Nay Chi, 20, said she often sneaks a selfie when no one is watching, but is too shy to wield a stick in the public’s view, unless joined by friends.

Still, a stroll around Myanmar’s scenic places or gatherings of friends is likely to reveal a selfie stick. Mobile shop sellers hope the trend is here to stay, and that other mobile users can overcome their fear of embarrassment when using a selfie stick in favour of taking that perfect picture destined for social media.


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