When I arrived in Florence a few days ago I immediately noticed people with their little cameras floating away from the photographer’s outstretched arm by means of a flimsy bit of kit. One of many sellers of this amazing re-use of the antiquated car antenna is captured above. (The device you see is being mis-used as a tripod that would send your camera crashing to the ground in the slightest wisp of wind, but it’s really designed to be a clever arm extension, trust me.)
You see, when God invented arms He made an obvious mistake. They were not long enough for a proper selfie. Women of questionable morals were often unable to compose a photo that would encompass all their charms. People in front of statues had to spend hours trying to cram their faces and a famous statue reproduction into the frame. Enter what I call the Selfie Helper. “You buy the smart phone, we make the camera and your arm work together correctly.”
It’s a lot like Hamburger Helper, isn’t it? “Thy (camera) rod, like thy onion powder, they comfort thee.”
This isn’t the first time creation was found wanting. Ancient people found it necessary to extend their spear-tossing arms by use of the atlatyl. Look it up.
In any case, once I had noticed the Selfie Helper phenomenon, the rest of the excursion’s conversation seemed to gravitate towards tourist cameras.
A Florence guide sipping the thick chocolate drink Florence is famous for lamented, “The superintendent decided to allow photography in the museums. So now, nobody listens. They’re all clicking and beeping away while you talk into a vacuum.”
But later on, as we dipped our cantucci into tiny glasses of vin santo in an overpriced cafe bordering the Piazza Repubica while being mesmerized by the constant flow of drunken students trying to stay on the bucking horses of the carousel the municipality had plunked down in the middle of the piazza, Author Susan Van Allen brought the social effects of the Selfie Helper into sharp focus.
“Yet another thing to disconnect us from the social ritual of handing our valuable camera to a total stranger in order that we might have a single, thus valuable, memento of our experience.”
Yes, we are now complete. Free of the anxiety over the possibility that the stranger might run off with our prized possession—oh delicious terror!—we can pass the time of our vacation entirely isolated from the pasta-eaters and other tourists who surround us.
Good for us.