GoPro Extension Pole the New Bluetooth Headset Dork Accessory?

Romantic restaurant, white tablecloth, dimly lit and this dope is holding a GoPro on an extension pole to record his smiling mug and his female companion’s embarrassed downward expression.

That was yesterday. Today I walk through World Trade Center for a cameo office appearance at my job, dodging spacey GoPro extension wielders as they twirl in a clumsy Icecapades.

GoPro has its uses, it has allowed the world to share the road with moronic Russian drivers, for instance.

When I see these oblivious pole-wielders I think back to circa-2009 when Americans decided they needed Bluetooth headsets permanently attached to their ears and thought they looked good. There is the occasional public holdout, however most have retreated to cars and private rooms.

Then came the continuing onslaught of walking phone nosers, who can’t be bothered to look up as they disrupt traffic down the sidewalk.

Now the GoPro extension pole. Is the iPad extension pole next? Perhaps widescreen theater with surround sound, harking back to the shoulder boomboxes of the 80s?

There is a serious point to be made, the more we diddle around with tech to record and ‘augmented reality’ to supposedly inform, the less we experience the world we came to see. The extension pole turns the camera around from seeing the world as the holder moves through it, to seeing the holder through a bumbling selfie lens.

Readers, what’s your take on proper GoPro extension pole etiquette?

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  • Autolycus

    After my wife and I saw the thousandth tourist in New Zealand using a GoPro or phablet on a stick, we decided that the next big thing was definitely going to be a stick for full-size tablets. We just need to figure out how to get the stick to push the virtual shutter release to get ours on Kickstarteter and be “it”.

  • Autolycus

    After my wife and I saw the thousandth tourist in New Zealand using a GoPro or phablet on a stick to take a photo or vine video of a mountain/glacier/waterfall, we decided that the next big thing was definitely going to be a stick for full-size tablets. We just need to figure out how to get the stick to push the virtual shutter release to get ours on Kickstarter and be “it”.

  • Jason

    The headline alone got my blood pumping. I hate those things. I was recently in Iguazu Falls where the railings around the viewpoints gets very crowded with people trying to take pictures. It’s 10X worse with the tools wielding those selfie sticks. They nearly hit everyone around them, push other people out of the way because of the extended view they can get, and ruin other people’s photos by extending the stick over the railing.

  • Those poles drive me nuts! I was on top of a mountain in Nepal earlier this fall and EVERYONE seemed to have one. Not only did I have to aim my camera around tourists in order to get a photo, but I also had to creatively angle not to get their poles in my shot. I have nothing against the poles themselves, but tourists seem to think it gives them the right to be inconsiderate to other travelers as poles block walkways, hit people on the head, and are generally a nuisance.

  • I’m so with you on this. Let’s experience the world first-hand, not through a lens, much less a lens on a stick.

  • John

    I have no problem with the selfie and GoPro sticks. I saw many during a recent trip to Japan. Yeah, they can be annoying and even idiotic…

    …however, my own travel experience is not dependent on what others are carrying. However, I don’t like crowds when I travel, and the proliferation of credit card pushing bloggers, cheap FF miles, LCCs, and the rise of the middle class in developing countries, has meant that there are more crowds at sites today than in the past. A trip to Angkor Wat used to require a 10-hour bus ride, for example. Today, you can get there in business class and stay at a 5-star hotel FOR FREE with a few credit card applications. But I now benefit from cheap miles myself, so whom am I to complain?

    I agree that spending all of your time staring at your smartphone screen (or holding a stick) can give you tunnel vision, but I don’t see how this should affect others, including the above commenters who claim that they cannot take a memorable/scenic picture without becoming a contortionist with their own camera. Move or wait for the shot to clear… Professional photographers can spend days without a good photo opportunity.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I have a selfie stick for my smartphone and I have a GoPro. I do not have a GoPro stick though. The GoPro is an amazing camera, and I haven’t even used it underwater yet.

    I used both on my recent solo travels, and in some places/countries, a selfie stick was the source of some of my more memorable photos. These aren’t the best photos I can have, but they’re still better than a arm-length selfie. Or, on the rare occasion that there is someone else nearby, relying on a stranger, who more often than not takes a poorly framed or unfocused shot.

    Seems RTC has been lucky to have some decent photos from his travels. If RTC had no photos of himself on his blog, I would find it a lot less interesting…

    My concern beyond the selfie sticks is the drone-toting tourists. I see this happening in the not so distant future. Now that has the potential to seriously ruin my desire to travel beyond the overcrowding…

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @John – thoughtful comments. I have been there many times with finding a local and trying to smile when a terrible picture is taken. I used to take one picture of myself in every country, lately I have done less and less. In deserted places I sometimes trot out my handy, little Joby flexible tripod. I guess I need to put back more pictures of me on the blog, and work through the majority of trips the past few years that I still have not blogged.

    Maybe I am speaking more as a grumpy NY commuter, but it is not always possible to ignore the pole wiedlers when there are cluelessly wandering around and bumping in to people. That’s a lot different from a serious photographer staking out a perfect shot over hours or days.

    Tourism is growing hugely around the world though I think it is much more to do with rising incomes and cheap airfares than miles and points. Most of my travels the past year, where there were tourists, there were Chinese groups, Indians, and Europeans, none with the US miles and points opportunities we have in the US. Then again, I have never been to the DFW Centurion Club and I hear that can be quite a pile-up! Happy New Year!

  • Jamie

    Funnily enough I had never seen (or maybe never noticed) these go pro extension poles, or selfie poles. I’m not sure I’d know the difference. Then I went out on an errand to buy clothes for my children in London, since BA lost a bag of ours. This was immediately after I read your column, and it was new year’s eve, and on the tube were a group of people heading out, who had obviously begun their celebrating earlier in the day and one of them had one of these poles. It was really funny. Didn’t happen to be inconveniencing me, because I was just having a boring trip on the underground looking for something that was open new years eve (nothing was). It gave me a little chuckle, because of the timing and also because it did seem very silly the way they kept moving this pole around and mugging for the camera.
    Saw another one the next day.
    On the subject of how annoying it is, I don’t see that it’s unreasonable to use one for taking a photo of yourself rather than asking a stranger. But walking around on a crowded manhattan sidewalk bumping into people… yes that sounds very annoying.
    On the subject of putting ones phone down and noting the world around you…We were in London over new year’s and I was sitting in the breakfast room one day waiting for a coffee to go (or “take away”), just about to pull out my phone to keep myself busy and I realized that there were many people sitting alone eating their breakfast or waiting for someone and none of them was using a phone or iPad. Some were reading newspapers, though. I took that as a hint from the universe that I, too, could sit there waiting for a coffee without needing to use my phone.