Where did global obsession with 'selfie sticks' start?

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2014 04:22 PM | Updated as of Nov 19 2014 01:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Remember when Time magazine named Manila as the "selfie capital" of the world?

Filipinos are still obsessed with getting the perfect selfie, as seen with the rise in Google searches about "selfie sticks" or "monopods."

For those who have been living under a rock, a selfie stick is an "extendable handheld self-portrait-taker that is usually attached to smartphones."

Google Trends said the online queries for "selfie stick," "monopod," and other related terms started surging in 2014, mostly in Southeast Asian countries.

But surprisingly, the global obsession with selfie sticks did not start in Manila, but in a neighboring Asian country - Jakarta in Indonesia.

Google Trends noted the popularity of selfie sticks started in late 2013 in Jakarta. This spread to Malaysia between January to March 2014.

But between March to June 2014, the Philippines overtook Malaysia in the number of online searches on selfie sticks.

Google noted that the term "selfie" itself started in Asia in 2012, not in the United States. In 2012, the Japanese term for "selfie" was 50 times more searched than the US term "selfie." Taiwanese, Korean and Chinese equivalents of the term were also far more searched than "selfie."

Selfie sticks are now often confused with monopods. A traditional monopod is actually a single-stand camera support, but now it is known as a "selfie stick".

Google Trends noted the popularity of selfie sticks is currently spreading to South Korea and Japan. In August, online searches on the term peaked in the two countries.

Singapore now is the "selfie stick" search capital, followed by Dubai. Dubai overtook the Philippines and Indonesia in terms of interest in the selfie stick.

"Almost everything now seems to find meaning in the four corners of digital photography. The figures we gathered on selfie sticks provide a portrait on how the act of capturing ourselves visually as a way to communicate is continuously evolving. From the early cameras to smartphones and to photography enabling tools like tripods and now selfie sticks, people continuously find ways to better represent themselves in a community that has evolved into digital natives," said Gail Tan, Google Philippines Head of Communications.