If you are anything like me, the theme song Jaws plays in your head every time you go in the ocean. Thanks to the movie, it is a fear made manifest. We know what it looks like to get bitten and how tasty we look to any shark from below. And while I am aware that mathematically speaking, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be shark bait, it’s a powerful fear. Logic doesn’t hold a candle when fear is involved.
That said, I cannot resist sharing the following statistic. There is a greater danger lurking, not in the sea, but in the palm of your hand. Duh dun! Your smartphone.
Over the past three years, more people have died taking selfies than by shark attack. The first selfie death was reported in March 2014, and there have been dozens since. In 2014, 15 people died; in 2015 the number rose to 39, and in 2016, there were over 73 selfie deaths.
A group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University is tracking selfie deaths in order to come up with a program to alert selfie-takers that they may be in a high-risk area and in a dangerous situation. The majority of deaths occur from a height, in a vehicle, on a train or in the water.
Please don’t let the lure of a gazillion likes on an “epic” picture dupe you into doing something reckless. It’s safer to take a swim in the Atlantic…without your phone, of course.
I wish you all the best,
Dr. Samantha Boardman