126-year-old Portuguese Statue Destroyed by Tourist via Inane Selfie Attempt
In the early 2010’s the selfie, the act of photographing yourself with the aid of your smart device or cell phone became an ingrained part of the global cultural zeitgeist. For good and for bad. There is nothing wrong with taking a selfie. Obliviously taking a selfie in front of a speeding train or with a large, wild animal is a recipe for disaster at best or a tragically avoidable death at worst. By some estimates, almost 30 people died worldwide in a freak, selfie-related incidents in 2015. That estimate only corresponds to officially reported incidents. In steadily growing annual trends more and more people, usually, tourists, are dying, getting seriously injured or arrested for taking selfies in irresponsible or reckless situations.
There is another growing selfie trend that is alarming people and responsible luxury travelers worldwide as well: the irresponsible selfie-takers who are accidentally destroying priceless and irreplaceable works of art. Dom Sebastian, I was a Portuguese king whose reigned in Portugal during the mid-16th century. A 126-year-old statue in his likeness graces a perch in front of Lisbon’s Rossio train station, which was first opened for rail travel in 1890.
In early May 2016, a 24-year-old male tourist clambered up a 6-foot statue perch in front of the Rossio train station to take a selfie with the Dom Sebastian statue. The as-of-yet unidentified 24-year-old tourist, while trying to hold onto the statue, knocked it over onto the sidewalk below breaking it into several pieces. The young tourist tried to escape but was soon caught by police. He will soon face charges for the destruction of the statue, which may be irrevocably damaged.
The Rossio train station was once considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. The Dom Sebastian statue was a source of local pride and a priceless work of art that greeted travelers from all over the world. Now it is ground zero for yet another freak selfie accident, just like the Taj Mahal many other landmarks before it in recent memory.
More and more tourists are inexplicably indulging in safety-oblivious selfie practices. Tourists are taking ill-advised and downright foolish selfies while in close proximity to wild animals, priceless objects and historical landmarks without thought to consequences. In February 2016, in Chennai, India, a teenager was killed when he tried to pose for a selfie while standing on train tracks. He was unwisely trying to adjust the selfie frame of focus to include the speeding train that was rapidly approaching from behind him. On May 25, 2016, a Chinese man visiting a Liaoning provincial zoo was killed as he tried to take a selfie with a one-ton walrus. The animal dragged the tourist into a pool where he drowned. The animal’s trainer of over a decade also drowned to death while trying to save the tourist. In early 2016, a tourist visiting Macedonia walked by a pond and admired a swan she saw. So she grabbed the bird, took a selfie posing with the swan and then walked away. The swan, who had probably never before been in such proximity to a human, was probably stressed to death and died on the ground where the tourist left it.
Travelers, travel safely and take photographs safely. Immerse yourself fully in the travel experience. The effort and strain needed to take a strategically choreographed selfie are not worth the hassle. Or death. Or imprisonment.