Critics say they are narcissistic, ruining public places and just plain bad. But research suggests that is only part of the story.

This month, when earthquakes rocked Southern California on back-to-back days, it was a visceral reminder that we may one day experience the "Big One," a quake with the power to kill and destroy.

A few people saw something else: a photo opportunity.

Tourists flocked to a large crack in a highway to see evidence of the damage for themselves and, of course, take a quick selfie.


It was only the latest example of how our modern love of