We took a selfie stick on a Philly tour yesterday and got awkward stares, a shrug and a little hate

Bobby Chen (@rysChen)

The selfie stick has gone from a rarely-used novelty to a mainstream, divisive tool. It’s loved or hated and in many cases banned. Many New York and European museums have banned it. So, apparently, has the 7-Eleven at 12th and Chestnut.

Why do I know that? The employees there weren’t too happy with me standing next to the donuts and taking a picture. On Wednesday, I went around Philadelphia, armed with a selfie stick and a Billy stick (below!) in a bid to take Billy Penn selfies in public places — some that were touristy, and others less so — to gauge the selfie-stick friendliness of Philadelphia.


Each location has been rated with awkward emoji. One awkward emoji means selfie sticks brought no shame and five awkward emoji, well, that means 7-Eleven.


Emoji awkward 5 (1)

So, the 7-Eleven story. They’re not a fan of selfie sticks at the convenience store (even though Beyonce uses a selfie stick in the music video for her song “7/11”). I walked in, positioned the selfie stick up high for the optimal angle, started clicking and then heard the voice of the man working the cash register. Here’s what the angry-people-in-the-background selfie ended up looking like.


Bobby Chen (@rysChen)


Emoji awkward 1 (1)

Someone actually complimented the selfie stick here. A woman who saw it said, “that’s better than the jawn I got.”

Love P selfie

Chinatown Gate

Emoji awkward 2 (1)

No odd stares whatsoever even though several businesspeople were walking around, and attendees at the NAACP conference were nearby.

China selfie

Independence Hall

Emoji awkward 3 (1)

People at Independence Hall were surprisingly attentive toward the selfie stick, even though it’s a major tourist zone where they should be expecting thousands of pictures to be taken with all types of devices.

Indy Hall selfie

Reading Terminal Market

Emoji awkward 2 (1)

It’s not easy walking through a crowded Reading Terminal Market with a selfie stick. The good news is people get out of your way a lot quicker when it looks like you’re essentially trying to impale them with a small pole! They were also intrigued by the selfie stick. A middle-aged couple stopped to ask about it, unsure of what it was. And another man started chanting “selfie stick, selfie stick” as I walked by the area where people sit.

Bobby Chen (@rysChen)

Masonic Temple

Emoji awkward 4 (1)

A security guy was waiting at the top of the stairs of the Masonic Temple entry. He looked like he was about to pounce. It was a quick selfie.

Masonic selfie

City Hall

Emoji awkward 1 (1)

Employees of City Hall are apparently cool with selfie-sticks. I walked through security holding it out without getting a question. On the second floor, a security guy asked where I was going but said nothing about the selfie stick. The atmosphere isn’t that great for selfie-taking, though. The halls were empty.

City Hall Selfie


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