Since the advent of smartphones with cameras, there have been deaths associated with people taking pictures of themselves, or “selfies.” An intoxicated man from Mexico shot himself accidentally while taking a selfie. A Romanian woman was electrocuted while taking a selfie on the top of a train. A man in Indonesia fell into a crater while taking a selfie. A man was gored during Spain’s annual running of the bulls while taking a selfie. Deaths while taking selfies now outnumber deaths by shark attacks. These events even prompted the Russian government to launch a campaign to persuade people to be more cautious while taking selfies. As you can see, most of these deaths were ultimately caused by the environment in which the selfie was taken; it is important to note that dangerous situations are not the best time to take pictures.
Shark attacks result in deaths each year in Florida, as well. Interestingly, the most likely group of people to be injured in a shark attack are surfers. Fishermen, scuba divers, and swimmers are also at high risk of being attacked by a shark. While sharks get a lot of attention in the media for being dangerous animals, the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is extremely low, and the odds of being killed in that shark attack are even smaller.
Comparing the danger of selfies against the danger of shark attacks is a good exercise in thinking about risk. Even though more people have been killed while taking selfies, that does not mean taking a selfie is inherently dangerous. Every instance in which someone was killed while taking a selfie, their own negligence. In legal terms, this is called contributory negligence or comparative negligence. For example, In Japan, a 66 year old man fell down some steps and had a heart attack after taking a selfie. If the steps were slippery because something had been spilled there, and the property owner was aware or should have been aware of the hazard, then the owner could be partly responsible for the man’s injury. In Florida, the court would compare how much each party was at fault and only compensate the injured party to the extent they were not at fault for their own injuries.