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Two women, desperate for original selfie, carve initials into Rome's Colosseum

Technically Incorrect: Two Californian women are arrested after defacing the landmark's walls with a coin. Bystanders report them to police.

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


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The perfect place for an original selfie? Rick Steves Europe; YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Cell phones have made taking photos so much easier.

This ease, however, has been coupled with the rise of social media, which compels all who sail in it to post images of themselves. But not just any images. No, you must seem interesting and, that quintessential American concept, excited.

Please imagine, therefore, the societal pressure on two California women who were visiting Rome's Colosseum.

It's one thing to take a selfie at Italy's beautiful historic landmark. But how can you make it sufficiently unmissable so that you get at least 10 "likes"?

These women, said to be in their 20s, decided the best option was to take a coin and use it to carve their initials into the Colosseum's walls and then pose.

As The Guardian reports, they were apparently a touch astonished that not everyone approved of their ingenuity. Bystanders reported them to the police. There does seem some doubt, however, as to how big the initials they carved (J and N) were. While the Guardian declares 8 centimeters (about 3 inches), Reuters offers 20 cm (around 7.87 in.)

Italy's La Repubblica reports that the women expressed regret, and it offered a quote from them: "We'll remember for a lifetime." (Google's translations are as imperfect as these two women's cultural interpretations.)

Fervent modernists may complain that the wall the women carved actually dates from restoration work performed in the 1800s. The Colosseum itself was built in the first century AD.

However, what would possess anyone to imagine that taking their selfie was more important than preserving the integrity of an ancient building?

The women may still face charges of aggravated damage. Please don't imagine, though, that they are the first to have tried such a maneuver. Tourists from Russia, Brazil and Canada and Australia have also been apprehended attempting to carve themselves into history.

I can only bring one small glimmer of light to these desperate proceedings.

Having read many reports of this incident, I cannot find any that suggest they used a selfie stick.