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Jakarta Post

Indonesia sparked the selfie trend, Google says

  • Mariel Grazella

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, December 8, 2014   /  11:55 am
Indonesia sparked the selfie trend, Google says

Looking good:  A man photographs himself with a selfie stick, locally known as a tongsis.

In an age of unabashed narcissism, the selfie stick now basks in the limelight with great engineering feats such as India'€™s Mangalayaan spacecraft and Lockheed Martin'€™s high-beta fusion reactor.

The selfie stick has been named one of the 25 best inventions of 2014, as compiled by TIME magazine.

However, a Google study pointed out that the selfie stick owes its meteoric rise as a '€œcultural phenomenon'€, as TIME puts it, to Indonesia '€“ a nation enamored with social-media profiles and updates.

The study, shared with The Jakarta Post, stated that '€œpeople'€™s interest in selfie sticks started in Jakarta, Indonesia'€, with Malaysia and the Philippines propelling the trend further.

Search interest in selfie sticks '€” locally known as tongkat narsis, literally narcissist staff, and its abbreviation, tongsis '€” began picking up in Jakarta toward the end of 2013, and in the Indonesian capital was seven times that of the US, the study said.

A look at Google Trends, a tool that displays the popularity of search keywords, shows that the term tongsis hit a score of 10 in Indonesia in December, whilst the term '€œselfie stick'€ only started to register a score of one in the US in January 2014.

The score reflects the number of times searches have been done for a certain term relative to the total number of searches performed on Google over time.

Google'€™s study also noted that the trend spread to Malaysia, where search interest was double that of Indonesia between January to March 2014.

After that, the Philippines caught up, with search interest reaching double that of Malaysia by March to June 2014.

'€œNote that in all the above months, interest in the US barely budged,'€ the Google study said.

Google Trends data shows that between Nov. 23-29, Indonesia scored 21 while Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines scored 20, 11 and 10 respectively for search terms related to the localized words for selfie stick.

The selfie-stick craze has not died down in Indonesia, with first-time buyers snapping up the tool.

Fay, a professional in Jakarta, recently purchased her first selfie stick from a popular online store in preparation for her year-end travels abroad.

She pointed out that she would be traveling solo, and bringing a selfie stick meant that she would not have to '€œbother strangers'€ when wanting to take pictures of herself.

'€œWithout a stick, your selfies are limited to as far as your arm'€™s length, which is too close for me,'€ she said.

Meanwhile, a selfie stick would allow her to take pictures at a wider angle, she noted.

Dewi, another selfie-stick user, added that she preferred using selfie sticks with U-shaped grips, which were far sturdier.

'€œThis model prevents my smartphone from falling down,'€ she said, adding that her chosen model was similar to those that her friends bought.

'€œThat model is apparently pretty popular,'€ she pointed out.

Selfie sticks are usually made up of two parts, a monopod and a grip in which to place the smartphone, which can be bought separately. Consumers can choose from a U-shaped grip or an L-shaped grip, both able to accommodate various smartphones.

In addition, consumers can buy Bluetooth-enabled remote controls that allow them to command camera functions on their smartphones.

However, Dewi noted that she did not utilize her selfie stick as often as she should, saying that she had not even bothered taking it when traveling.

'€œI am lazy to take the stick around because they have turned out to be quite cumbersome,'€ she said.

Although selfie sticks are retractable for easy storage, users still have to lengthen or shorten the monopod manually.

Given that one might quickly bore of using selfie sticks, Fay made sure that she did not purchase a pricy one.

'€œI am thrifty when it comes to smartphone accessories, and that is why I bought one that only cost Rp 49,000 [US$4],'€ she said.

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