Being Respectful


When to Say No to Selfies

Our world now is filled with selfies. Everyone takes them, kids, parents, grandparents, students, teachers. Everyone knows what a selfie is. People take them at work, in their car, in front of tourist sites, at home, even in the bathroom. And I know that many people find them debatable. Some people say its a sad cry for attention. Some say its a tacky way to brag. Others say that it's empowering. And while I am more on the empowering side (it boosts self confidence), I do believe that there are places where selfies should not be taken. The bathroom for instance, that's just nasty. In class, excuse me learn something please. And at a concentration camp? How did that ever even cross your mind?

Last summer a girl posted a selfie on Twitter about her in Auschwitz. Not only was she posing for a photo in a site that haunts the memories of many to this day, she was smiling like it was super cute moment. Sorry girl but nothing's cute about the Holocaust. That happy go lucky selfie is not okay. And while many people lashed out on the teenage girl, some people took to her defense. Hmmm. I'm wondering how many people think this is respectful. Maybe if she wanted a picture to post on Twitter, maybe she could have taken a picture of the gates that say "arbeit macht frei" and maybe started a discussion with her followers about how much of a lie that gate was. How people were working every day but they weren't free. Or is that me being a really nerdy teacher?

Memorial Statue of Sachsenhausen
Scene of the Crime
But that was just a story on the internet, I never thought that I would witness it happen in real life. While I was visiting the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, a group of tourists were there visiting. They were walking around, joking, having loud conversations. Already they got quite a few glares from people. Then they go up to the memorial, wrap their arm around the Holocaust survivor statue, and take a selfie. What just happened? It seemed like all the older people and me were the only ones with our mouthes on the floor, glaring at them. When did something like this become acceptable? Would you take a selfie at your mother's funeral? Would you take a selfie in church or any religious service that you attend? Would you take a selfie at a cemetery? So why would you take a selfie at a site that is responsible for the mass murder of people for their ethnic, religious, and sexual identities? I felt awkward enough taking pictures of the concentration camp. I had to keep reminding myself that I am taking the pictures for educational purposes, not to show everyone how good a person I am because I stood in a concentration camp for ten minutes. But a selfie is all about showing confidence and pride, and this part of history is not something to be proud about. So I really don't see how the two fit together.

So please keep it classy people. And when in doubt, just think, did a lot of innocent people die here, and if they did, don't take the selfie. Ok I'm done being preachy.

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