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Hong Kong marathon may ban cell phones, selfies

Race organizers are concerned after many smartphone-preoccupied participants in this year's race caused foot traffic accidents.

The start of this year's Hong Kong Marathon.
Vrindavan1/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

In the world of the self-obsessed, no one else exists. Their lives are perpetually interesting. Their gadgets exist to record how interesting they are.

The organizers of the Hong Kong Marathon, however, are being pressured to agree that all this self-reverence and self-reference has become a little much.

They are considering a ban on cell phones during next February's race, after this year's runners took one too many pictures of themselves and caused one too many injuries to others.

As the South China Morning Post runs it, the CEO of the race's sponsor, Standard Chartered Bank, appealed to the organizers to prevent a recurrence of this year's mayhem when many runners reportedly arrived at the finish line covered in blood and bruises.

Benjamin Hung Pi-Cheng told the Post: "The problem was that a number of runners were trying to take self-portrait pictures using their smartphones. What we are trying to do is to encourage people not to do that."

He added: "It not only endangers themselves but endangers a lot of people running behind them."

One of the victims was Joyce Cheung Ting-yan, who won the women's race after taking a fall.

The CEO's appeal is surely noble. The fact that the self-obsessed need to photograph themselves, regardless of what they are doing or whom it might affect, is a terrible affliction that contemporary psychiatry needs to deal with urgently.

However, Pi-Cheng's quest may be more complicated than he imagines. For, even if cell phones are banned, how many of the runners will don Samsung Galaxy Gear or some putative iWatch to achieve the same self-regarding purpose?

In a world of me-me-me, you-you-you sometimes have to say no-no-no.