Pose for a smiling selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower and you’re guaranteed to get a couple of “likes” or retweets. Do the same at a concentration camp, however, and you’re certain to set the Twitterverse on fire.
Such was the reaction when Alabama teenager Breanna Mitchell tweeted a smiling selfie, marking her visit to the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. “Selfie in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp” read the accompanying caption, which she punctuated with a blushing emoji. Breanna’s Twitter feed, which she has since made private, was bombarded with upward of 6,000 angry tweets in a matter of 24 hours, reports The Washington Post.
Mitchell said the photo has been misinterpreted, and that she took it to honour her father who passed away and had promised to take her to the camp. But she isn’t the only teen missing a cultural sensitivity chip. Taking selfies at concentration camps has become a micro-trend on Instagram and Facebook. So much so that a recent article in The New Yorker posed the question: “Should Auschwitz Be A Site for Selfies?”
No, it shouldn’t. That goes for funerals, car accidents and the Ground Zero memorial, but people are doing that, too. Taking selfies in sad places means we’re treating the world around us as little more than a backdrop for our own vanity shoots. The problem is obvious—we’re a little too enamored of our own images—and so is the solution: stop taking pictures of your dopey face! Start reflecting on the world’s features instead of your own. Whatever happened to letting the moment, whether tragic or transcendent, sink into your memory instead of your SIM card?