Technically speaking, selfies are just self-portraits, but the nature of their evolution over social media means they're widely perceived as a fun time activity. It's perfectly fine to snap your own photo with the front camera of your phone at a ballgame, a concert or theater.
But doing the same is not acceptable at the site of a major building explosion in which two people died painful deaths, at least 22 were injured and many more lost their homes. This happened on March 27 when a photographer in New York City caught a bunch of girls smiling and snapping their own group photo – via the ever-annoying selfie stick – with the burning site of East Village building in their background.
The photo of the tasteless selfie being taken was first posted on an East Village blog from where it made the front page of the New York Post and sparked massive outrage on social media.
Are they just self-absorbed jerks as NYPost calls smiling selfie takers at gas explosion in East Village? Not tourist attraction! @pix11news— Magee Hickey (@pix11magee) March 30, 2015
The girls above were actually tourists who were sightseeing when they stumbled on to the East Village tragedy. But not being a local doesn't give anyone a pass to act this desensitized to a human tragedy.
Worse, they weren't the only buffoons to snap smiling pics at the explosion scene. Former Iowa Democratic staffer Christina Freundlich was also a selfie culprit and, unlike the tourists, she also proudly made a victory sign and sported the biggest grin ever.
Freundlich later apologized, saying: “I am deeply sorry for my careless and distasteful post. It was inconsiderate to those hurt in the crash and to the city of New York. What happened last week in the East Village is not to be taken lightly and I regret my course of action.”
Dubbed "Dark Tourism," this phenomenon of visiting and taking pictures at places of great human tragedies is nothing new. In fact, as disrespectful as it may sound, this habit is almost as old as photography itself. However, the rise of social media, virility and selfies has made them more prominent.