Suresh Menon is a writer based in In­dia. In his youth he set out to change the world but later de­cided to leave it as it is

Friday - - Humour -

It was bound to hap­pen sooner or later. The selfie el­bow is here. This comes from flex­ing and fold­ing your arm and thus strain­ing your mus­cles while work­ing out the best an­gle for your selfie.

It took a TV host in the US to visit her doc­tor for a painful el­bow for the com­plaint to work it­self into med­i­cal jour­nals. The lady was di­ag­nosed with the ‘selfie el­bow’. A per­sonal event thus be­came a cul­tural mile­stone and fi­nally gained pres­tige as a med­i­cal con­di­tion. The ten­nis el­bow has given way to the selfie el­bow.

It starts – as so many of these things do, in­clud­ing pub­lic re­la­tions – with an an­gle. In the selfie’s case, the phone tilted at about 45 de­grees. Then there is the light, which needs to be flat­ter­ing – thus greater move­ment for the el­bow. When that’s in place, there is the pose – cheeks sucked in to sug­gest loss of weight as well as mis­chief. Tou­sled hair to sug­gest that you are a su­pe­rior crea­ture who doesn’t take all this se­ri­ously. Such ma­noeu­vres wreak havoc on the av­er­age el­bow.

As does the work to make ev­ery­thing ap­pear more flat­ter­ing – soft colours, tints, sharp edges blurred, get­ting rid of the wrin­kles, then that fi­nal mo­tion that gets it all on to Twitter. El­bow, el­bow, and more el­bow.

Imag­ine do­ing that some 300 times in a day – shirt on (most of us), shirt off ( Justin Bieber), teeth in, teeth out, and so on. Con­tin­u­ous record­ing of the self is the mod­ern fetish. Last year a Ja­panese as­tro­naut sent a selfie from the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion. How much would his el­bow have needed to work?

Some­times it is not just the el­bow. The act of selfie-tak­ing de­stroys the rest of the body too – those fo­cused on tak­ing self­ies have fallen into ravines, been run over by trains, drowned at sea and so on. No smart­phone comes with a health warn­ing: ‘Don’t walk back­wards while at­tempt­ing a selfie. You may meet oth­ers who did so at the

Selfie-tak­ing may DE­STROY more than the el­bow. No smart­phone comes with a WARN­ING: ‘Don’t walk back­wards while at­tempt­ing a selfie. You may meet oth­ers who did so at the BOT­TOM of the Grand Canyon’

bot­tom of the Grand Canyon’.

The selfie mar­tyrs are both those who walked back too far as well as those who pose re­luc­tantly for the shot. If a pub­lic fig­ure re­fuses a selfie, it might be­come a na­tional scan­dal. I once took a selfie in Paris with a na­tional icon there. Sadly, my el­bow was at the wrong an­gle and I got only the top of the Eif­fel Tower.

Ah! missed, I said and walked on. For­wards. Those de­ter­mined not to miss might walk back­wards. That’s how they in­vite selfie mar­tyr­dom, dis­ap­pear­ing into the Seine, el­bow, selfie and all.

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