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Is it ever OK to use the much-derided selfie stick? I argue yes

Selfie sticks are often seen as either handy photographic tools or signs of rampant narcissism in popular culture. But there's plenty of room for both viewpoints, argues Crave's Amanda Kooser.

This selfie in England was taken with a Quik Pod back in 2009. Amanda Kooser/CNET

I owned a selfie stick before there were such things as selfie sticks. I have a Quik Pod extendable monopod designed to hold a regular camera. I can't remember exactly when I got it, but it was probably around 2008, prior to the current social-media-fueled selfie craze. Nowadays, Quik Pod advertises its wares as "selfie pole mounts."

Back then, the telescoping monopod was all about the convenience of capturing fun photos on the go, even if you were alone. Selfies had no connotations involving Kim Kardashian or annoying your social-media buddies with endless blitzes of sultry stares at the camera lens.

I took my Quik Pod on a solo transatlantic trip to England in 2009. If it wasn't for that monopod, I would have no decent photos of myself on my trip. My memories would be entirely of landscapes and other people and I would have to imagine my presence there when I flip back through the albums. This is why I just can't quite bring myself to hate on the whole concept of the selfie stick.

In 2009, as I strolled around Stonehenge and skipped by the streams in the Peak District, my monopod was met with wonder and curiosity. Tourists, hikers and locals alike loved it and vowed to get one of their own. Today, with the BelfieStick for butt selfies and the Selfie Brush mirror/brush/iPhone case receiving equal parts awe and ridicule, the Selfie Stick has become almost an object of pity, an ego-stroking gadget for narcissists who want to post endless kissy-face pictures on Facebook.

I'm not here to defend the entire unstoppable steamroller trend of selfies that has infected the Internet, but I am here to stand up for a small part of it.

There is a corner of the selfie world that is truly beautiful. It's in a place far away from bathroom mirrors and celebrity butt close-ups posted on Twitter. It's Robert Cornelius' smoldering stare peering out from the first selfie in 1839. It's Queen guitarist Brian May saying, "I don't care what anyone thinks, I'm rocking out with my selfie stick onstage." It's a memory captured by a medieval bridge over the River Wye in the small market town of Bakewell in England.

I know it's cool to hate on selfies right now. I've done my fair share of recoiling at the sight of especially egregious ones. When I go traveling again, I'm going to pack my Quik Pod. I won't use it all the time, but when I do, I will use it with pride.

My collection of Quik Pod camera monopods. Amanda Kooser/CNET