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Emma Watson explains why she won't take selfies with fans

Commentary: The actress reportedly says she prefers to give autographs. How blessedly analogue.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Do selfies offer too much exposure?

VCG, VCG via Getty Images

When people walk up to me and ask me to take pictures, I'm only too happy to oblige.

No, they don't want pictures with me. They want me to take their pictures. (I live in a tourist trap.)

Emma Watson, though, is in demand for selfies with fans whenever she's seen out and about, just living. She isn't fond of the practice.

It's not that, as a star, she's tired of being accosted when all she wants is a macchiato and a croissant. As the Harry Potter actress explained to Vanity Fair, it's a matter of data.

"For me, it's the difference between being able to have a life and not," she told Vanity Fair. "If someone takes a photograph of me and posts it, within two seconds they've created a marker of exactly where I am within 10 meters. They can see what I'm wearing and who I'm with. I just can't give that tracking data."

Does the selfie part of it matter? If someone sees you on the street, they can take a picture of you, instead of with you, and post it. Your whereabouts are immediately declared.

Still, Watson told Vanity Fair that on occasion she'll instead offer an autograph or even, perish the very concept, a conversation.

It's a fascinating contrast of the digital and the analogue. How valuable is it to you if you can tell your friends you chatted with Emma Watson, but didn't take a picture? I fear that selfies become the universal language of proof that you were there.

Indeed, Watson suggested that fans aren't impressed with her offer to just talk.

"I'll say, 'I will sit here and answer every single Harry Potter fandom question you have but I just can't do a picture,'" she said, and people won't want to do that.

The dilemma for her lies in knowing what a stranger might really want. "When am I a celebrity sighting versus when am I going to make someone's freakin' week? Children I don't say no to, for example," she explained.

Watson's publicist wouldn't be drawn as to whether one particular incident had caused Watson to reassess the taking of selfies.

It's an odd phenomenon that people believe they can just walk up to stars because they're stars. They seem not to wonder whether the star will like it or not. It's as if having conferred stardom on someone, people feel they not only know them, but own a piece of them.

One problem, it seems, is that "Harry Potter" fans can be a little more extreme than those of other movies.

"I have met fans that have my face tattooed on their body," she said.

Now that's not the sort of someone I'd want a selfie with.

First published March 1, 10:34 a.m. PT.

Update, 10:57 a.m.: Adds response from Watson's publicist.

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