Sympathy, Not Selfies

Sympathy, Not Selfies

New York has tourists. Shocker, I know.  A lot of these tourists tend to smile and make some dumb pose in front of every single site they see. They post these pictures on social media to show all of their friends how much cooler they are than them; each “like” validates that their life, does, in fact have meaning. I used to get the appeal of this as I have been in that exact position before myself.

However, I have never been the extremely rude and inconsiderate person to pose in front of sites commemorating the lives of innocent victims. Last October, I visited the Dachau concentration camp near Munich, Germany where I saw people posing for pictures and taking selfies there. This was a concept that completely baffled me because I honestly was so overcome with emotion that it was hard enough trying to comprehend everything that actually transpired there. Standing at the exact place where innocent people were mistreated and many died was possibly the most sobering experience of life. It was also one of the most uncomfortable due to the fact that I misinterpreted the bathroom signs there and walked in on some German guy taking a piss. Normally I would have laughed at my awkwardness,but it is not exactly appropriate to laugh in a concentration camp, just as it is not appropriate to smile and have your picture taken there either.

Every single time I have visited the 9/11 memorial in New York, I have also witnessed tourists posing in front of the memorial, smiling. I find myself wondering if they know how many landmarks there are to be celebrated in New York where it is appropriate to happily hug their friend in a picture? A hell of a lot. Do that in front of the Empire State Building, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, anywhere except in spots where a major tragedy has transpired.

It is beyond disrespectful to smile and use places like concentration camps and memorials as a backdrop to your happiness. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with simply photographing memorial sites and places honoring those whose lives were tragically lost, but please have an ounce of decency and refrain from smiling in pictures in front of such sites. It is comparable to taking a picture in front of someone’s grave, grinning like the idiot you are if you think that is acceptable. How would you feel if someone did that at the graveside of one of your loved ones?

It is not okay to smile in selfies or any pictures in front of sites of tragedy. It reduces actual people’s lives to nothing more than an aesthetically pleasing tourist site. So please, #stopthesmilingselfiesinfrontofmemorialsites2kforever.