Despite moving to the South Coast a year ago, I shamefully only walked the Seven Sisters last month. It was a bank holiday, so what seemed like half of the UK population had chosen to do the same. Walking alone, it was a great opportunity for people watching. There were keen walkers striding along with poles, sour-faced children dragging their feet in protestation at being pulled away from their screens for the day, and puffing tourists searching for the specific views they had been promised online. But, the hordes did have one thing in common: the strange desire to perch right on the edge of the crumbling cliffs to get the perfect selfie.
It’s funny that despite hundreds of “killfies” (the media’s term for death by selfie) occurring in the last decade, we are increasingly obsessed with visually documenting our time for our friends, family, and even strangers, regardless of the risk.
It might just be a fortunate accident of my far-from-teenage age, but I am proud to say that I do not own a selfie stick (yet). However, I am very guilty of feeling a real need to capture what I consider to be the more exciting or unusual things that I do. When a distracted cameraman missed filming my gorge swing in Zimbabwe, I was absolutely gutted. Somehow, without being able to show people proof of the moment, the fact that I had summoned up the courage to do it and loved every second was not close to being enough.
And I am not alone in this, as proven by the prevalence of GoPro cameras attached to the wrists, legs, and helmets of people seeking a burst of adrenaline in the skies, on the land, and underwater.
You will see your fair share of action cameras at paragliding sites too. Some belong to solo pilots who want to document their flights, often to check their technique when trying new acro moves. Some are clutched by walkers or pub-lunchers talking an opportunistic shot of themselves in front of a sky dotted with tiny, colourful wings. And some, well maybe most, belong to tandem pilots.
Understandably, most people who take a tandem flight want a photo or video to capture themselves in flight. Whatever a person’s reason for flying — to seek adventure, appreciate the scenery, or confront a fear — they want to be able to look back on the moment and share it with others.