Well, think about it. Photography has existed for 150-plus years. Sticks have existed for slightly longer. The fact that we haven't seen such a contraption until recently seems suspicious, doesn't it?
"Selfie sticks" come from the few-years-old GoPro tradition of skaters and other narcissistic hot dogs that want to show off how badass they are but lack the friends necessary to capture their moves in style. Plus, anything shot from self-POV looks hella more dope than something shot from a reasonable perspective.
Wanna see Patient Zero of this bullshit?
Darren "Genius" Aronofsky convincing you that Jared Leto moving a fucking television on a dolly is high drama. That Jennifer Connelly walking down the hallway is high drama. Discovering that strapping a camera to your chest makes extremely fucking boring shit edgy as fuck if you only violate composition by putting an actor right the fuck in the middle of something.
Here's a completely pedestrian skateboard video. Can you pick out the "edgy" shots?
(But more on that in a minute)
Notice how putting a GoPro on a pole makes stupid shit like whip pans look dramatic as fuck? How the most visually interesting thing going on is entirely related to spastic motion? How it doesn't really have to be anything in order for it to be "cool looking?"
Now - it doesn't take a genius to notice that Selfie Sticks are not being sold to shredders, BASE jumpers or any other practitioners of extreme sports. They're being sold to citizens. But they're being sold to citizens for the exact same reason.
Here's a picture of a British family visiting Mt. Rushmore.
Here's a selfie with Mt. Rushmore.
The former says "We were at Mount Rushmore!"
The latter says "WE! were at mountrushmore"
Finally, the British family had to do one of the following:
1) Sit their phone on a park bench and hit the timer, having carefully composed the shot.
2) Waited for an approaching stranger and said "Hey mate mind taking a picture of us?"
Our narcissistic couple, on the other hand, just had to go HERP DERP CAMERAFLIP and there they are.
Which brings us back to our 150-year-old camera tradition and our zero-year-old selfie stick tradition. See, up until smartphones it took a modicum of skill to take a decent photo. It took an investment. It made photos something of value, however ephemeral that value may have been. It made the art of taking photos something that people valued as a skill.
I take a lot of photos - or I did, back in the film world. And I'd go somewhere touristy with my shit and people would ask me to take their photo with their camera. All the time. They assumed that since I had a spendier camera than they did, I'd probably do a pretty good job of capturing their special moment with Landmark X. I'd like to think they were right. In order for them to determine that, they needed to overcome their distrust of the angry-looking ponytailed dude in a leather jacket. I never gave them a reason to regret it. Chinese families, German couples, retirees from Florida - a human bond of trust and affinity forms, even if it's an ephemeral, wispy thing.
Now it's people raising their epees against each other to capture their narcissistic moments of themselves by themselves for their Instagram feed.
Selfie sticks aren't for photography. They're for inflating your own self-worth. "Why spend ten minutes taking a picture of my hot dog when I can spend fifteen minutes taking a picture of myself eating my hot dog? Everybody wants to see that!"
Arguing that the device makes that sort of narcissism more efficient and therefore better for humanity at large is like arguing that the Hillside Strangler was a kinder human being than Ted Bundy because Bundy made more of a mess.
More on why Aronofsky is a talentless douchebag:
It's called a Snorricam. It's been around in some form or another for eighty years but it wasn't until Aronofsky needed to make a boring-ass movie about addiction seem less boring-ass that audiences were subjected to the abuse.
Five years previously, Katheryn Bigelow and James Cameron (still married at the time) did a movie about experience-trading called Strange Days. In order to sell the story properly they needed POV. Decent POV cameras didn't really exist back in the era of 35mm film. So they hacked up a Steadicam and cut the camera down to 8lbs and rolled the fuck out of it.
Check this shit out.
The technology adopted by Aronofsky is about ME. The technology advanced by Cameron and Bigelow is about YOU. "I" am here as opposed to "YOU" are here. There have been some truly great GoPro productions that are about YOU... but the Selfie Stick crowd is all about ME.