The Battle of the Selfie Sticks: Leave only Footprints, Take only Selfies

Leave only footprints, take only selfies is the new moral maxim of the tourist. At the Trevi Fountain, the battle of the selfie sticks is waged daily.

It is said that when you visit the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in it, you will one day return. More precisely, you need to stand with your back to the fountain and toss a coin over your left shoulder. The spell of this magical act must be quite useful because every visit in the past I have thrown a coin into the fountain, and here I am yet again at this hot-spot of global tourism.

Trevi Fountain Money Suckers - The Battle of the Selfie SticksThe fountain was partially closed for tourists because the maintenance crew were sucking up all the coins. The city of Rome donates the thousands of Euros it retrieves from the fountain to the Caritas charity.

More impressive than the 80,000 cubic metres of water that pass through the fountain every day or the fact that it is made from Travertine are the hundreds of tourists that gather around the monument. Jostling for position to take the perfect picture, waving their selfie sticks like a horde of barbarians wielding their swords.

The Battle of the Selfie Sticks

The moral imperative of the contemporary tourist seems to be to “leave only footprints, take only selfies”. The selfie is the irrefutable evidence that you have been to this magnificent place—it provides the selfie taker with ultimate bragging rights. The selfie is the ultimate narcissistic act. No longer do we need to ask a fellow traveller to take a photo of ourselves. The stick has replaced an act of kindness with an act of self-gratification. On the positive side, it does reduce the risk of somebody sprinting away with your camera.

The battle of the selfie sticks was more amusing to watch than the fountain itself. This time, I didn’t throw a coin in the fountain. Whether I will return, depends on the goodwill of the gods of tourism.

Author: Peter Prevos

Social scientist and engineer who dabbles in magic tricks.

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