One Man’s Bullet Wounds are Another Man’s Selfie Opportunity

Last week, there was a gang-related shooting in Portland. This occurred in a part of town that has undergone some serious gentrification in the past two decades. When I moved up here 20 years ago, Alberta Street was not a place to venture after dark. Nowadays it’s home to trendy restaurants, gourmet ice cream shops, food cart pods and a popular summer street fair. It has become a mecca for hipsters – not necessarily a bad thing. Well, until this happens.

“Afterwards, let’s duck under the crime scene tape for ice cream!”

This couple decided it would be fun to snap a selfie amidst the chaos that followed a shooting in which three people were injured. To call their actions “insensitive” is going easy on the pair. Never mind the people lying on the ground, bleeding from gunshot wounds; the really important thing was getting that perfect look-at-me-I-was-there! shot uploaded to their social media accounts.

Other folks who were lined up for ice cream at Salt & Straw pleaded with police to let them duck beneath the yellow crime scene tape so they could pick up a Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper ice cream cone. It was a warm evening, after all.

What is wrong with society? Have we become so self-absorbed that basic human decency has taken a backseat to some inane desire to flash a smile in front of a public tragedy? And if so…why? To prove we were there? This problem is not exclusive to Portland. The same thing happened earlier this year in New York City following a gas explosion in the East Village that left two dead and injured 25 others.

"Make sure to capture those flames in the background!"
“Make sure to capture those flames in the background!”

I am no stranger to taking photos with my smartphone and posting them to Instagram or Facebook. Many an enticing main course has made its way onto my homepage. But there’s a big difference between a really bitchin’ salmon fillet and human tragedy, y’know?

I also think there’s a big difference between being behind the camera vs. in front of it. This is a great historical document of an American tragedy…

Hindenburg…that would have been ruined had the photographer inserted himself into the shot making a “duck face.”

Can you imagine if people had taken selfies during the Holocaust?! At least some places are sacred and meant for quiet introspection only. Right?

(RNS1-JULY 24) On June 20, Breanna Mitchell posted a selfie on the grounds of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. For use with RNS-AUSCHWITZ-SELFIE transmitted July 24, 2014. Photo courtesy Breanna Mitchell

Wrong, actually. On so many levels.

I think the worst part is, people are more interested in posing than actually helping. Kid drowning behind you? Gotta hashtag that shit!

They say not to lose your faith in humanity, but photos like these make it pretty hard.

Me? I think I’ll stick with food…




15 thoughts on “One Man’s Bullet Wounds are Another Man’s Selfie Opportunity

  1. Every time I see the concentration camp photo I actually feel sorry for that girl. I don’t think she knew she was being insensitive. I think she was more like “Oh look! Historical place!”
    I’m sure she’s learned her lesson now, maybe.


    1. I heard she lost her job because of that post. I guess I feel sorry for her, too…but at the same time, where was her common sense? I’d say “well, she’s young and didn’t know any better” but that does a disservice to other young people who do know better.

      I don’t know. I’m torn. The Portland peeps, though? NO sympathy there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I will give the benefit of the doubt to the image of the man with the struggling kid in the water and the group with the person on the bridge as there is a chance that they didn’t know what was going on behind them as the photo was taken, but the others???… wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s a jumper. No idea if he actually went through with it or not. I’ve often thought the same thing about 9/11. It amazes me that cell phones DID exist back then, because I know there were people who made phone calls from the doomed airplanes.


  3. Mark, I am so glad you posted about this topic because I think already know my feelings about this obsession with selfies and people documenting every single moment in the lives. And what you shared here is a perfect example of what I mean.

    ” To call their actions “insensitive” is going easy on the pair.”

    Yes, and to be SMILING while taking that photograph makes it even worse. And the selfie taken at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp is just so disgraceful.

    “I also think there’s a big difference between being behind the camera vs. in front of it.”

    Exactly. And that’s a very good point!

    Thanks so much for posting this buddy because it needed to be said!


    1. It’s a fine line, Ron. As a photographer (I consider you one), you do want to document life around you – to an extent. I guess it’s like when actors break through the invisible wall; inserting yourself into the action changes the audience’s perception of everything else. In the above cases, for the worse.

      Have a great weekend in Philly!


      1. I think there is hope, it is simply a matter of all the good people getting some backbone, remembering where their heart is and standing up to the bullies.


  4. I must live in a bubble. I haven’t seen stuff like this. That’s horrific. How sad. We have become very selfish. The ones with an actual person in need of help behind the selfie person just floor me. Wow.


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