August 7, 2014

Oh, what brilliantly clever creatures we humans are! Animal behaviourists confirm that admiring one’s own reflected image, as dolphins, whales and higher primates do is (rather than attacking it, as cunning but stupid creatures such as cats do) is a sure sign of advanced intelligence.

Since the long-gone days when Narcissus spent so long gazing at his own bodacious visage mirrored in a silvan pool that he accidentally starved himself to death, humankind has shown an impressive interest in visually assisted self-contemplation.

But as, with each successive generation, we develop more and more impressive brain power and more impressive technological aids to the vital business of self contemplation, young people today have far surpassed all their forebears to achieve a level of self-imaging (and hence, by implication, intelligence) beyond the wildest dreams of Caligula, Liberace, or even Warren Beaty.

The taking and sharing of “selfies” allows today’s smart phone equipped teens to amass hundreds if not thousands of self-images every single day of their lovingly documented lives.

The point at which technologically enabled self-admiration become less indicative of intelligence, according to spoilsport motor manufacturers, insurers and the like, is when the brilliantly gifted self-admirer in question attempts to fix some fleetingly ravishing impression of themselves while simultaneously in charge of a moving motor vehicle.

Under such circumstances, do-gooding worrywarts suggest, the distraction inherent in so-called selfage (pronounced with a drawn-out “ah” sound, as in massage, décolletage, or Farage) can prove an impediment to the avoidance of RTA type situations.

Relying on this line of argument, tired old motor manufacturing outfit Ford this week attempted to impugn the intellect of young Brits by reporting research findings suggesting that UK-based young persons are more likely than their continental counterparts to indulge in selfage whilst at the wheel. An almost exact third of Brits (33%), Ford claim, admit having taken a selfie while driving, compared with Germans and Frenchies on 28%, Italians on just 26%, and Spaniards on a pitifully unself-aware 18%.

“Taking a ‘selfie’ is the last thing you should do behind the wheel of a car,” said Jim Grim, Ford’s Driving Skills for Life Manager, tactfully refraining from adding that, with acts of selfage distracting their combined subject/objects for up to 14 seconds each (the time it takes to travel 3.5 football pitches at a steady 60), it easily could be the last thing you do.

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