Selfies may have existed in the past, but they really blew up in 2012. Everyone from my mother to Hillary Clinton was a part of the global phenomenon. In our defense, though, holding your phone above your eyes at a tilt really yields some of the most flattering photos. Moreover, taking your own photo puts you in the driver’s seat and gives you the power to decide the Instagram-a-bility of the outcome. I mean, what’s not to like? You get to hide your double chin without Photoshop! Yes, the overuse of selfies has gotten annoying over the years, but it’s a generally accepted trend.
Selfies, however, bring with them social constructs pertaining to vanity and narcissism and are sometimes perceived as egoistical gestures. It’s hard not to judge someone who keeps their Instagram and Snapchat story updated with selfies on the regular, but for most part, it’s a harmless activity. When I first came to the United States last year, I took a couple of selfies with the Statue of Liberty — pretty customary for a tourist like me. On the other hand though, it is definitely out of the ordinary to take a selfie in front of a scene of tragedy. Christina Freundlich was one of the people who took a super inappropriate selfie in front of the East Village fire that took place on Friday. Mind you, two men were killed and about 25 people were left injured by the tragic incident. Freundlich, still, found it fitting to hold up a peace sign and flash a smile as she took a photo in front of the scene of the accident.
Freundlich wasn’t the only one to take advantage of this selfie opportunity. A group of women were even seen using a “selfie stick” to take their own photo, the Daily Mail reported.
This is not an isolated occurrence. People have been known to take selfies in front of equally questionable sites, such as the Auschwitz concentration camp, the World Trade Center Memorial and even the funerals of their own grandmothers. What compels these humans to strike a pose in sites that have been known to host tragedies? The selfie revolution seems to have rendered mankind insensitive to the grief and sorrow that is attached to the sites of these tragic incidents. The nudging desire to obtain likes and attention on social media somehow blurs the established norm of acceptable social behavior.
In the spur of the moment, Freundlich deemed it acceptable to take a selfie, but she apologized profusely for her error in judgment after receiving disapproval from friends and strangers alike. In some ways, one might understand the eccentric rush of adrenaline that goes through a person when they witness a disaster of some sort — it’s kind of like not being able to look away from a car crash. Previously, it would end at people simply gathering around the accident, but the selfie revolution has caused people to go a step ahead and click pictures.
In an era run by social media, it can get tough to filter between things that are acceptable and things that are frowned upon, but Freundlich’s act was downright distasteful and disrespectful to those involved. In the end, it’s best that we stick to taking the stereotypical selfie and stay far, far away from turning sites of tragedies into tourist attractions.