Funeral selfies – has social media finally destroyed itself?

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 10.29.16There are some occasions that are enhanced by social media – parties, concerts…things you want to remember and share. Other occasions should never, ever, been mixed with social media. Like funerals.

It turns out though that ‘funeral selfies’ i.e. using your smartphone to take pictures of yourself on the way or even at a funeral are now a relatively common meme on Twitter and Instagram. Of course, they have been compiled in a Tumblr blog too.

The person who compiled this Tumblr has previously compiled one of people taking selfies at serious places around the world. It includes artistically posed selfies at concentration campus,  open mouthed surprise at Chenrnobyl, and a rather odd sign at Pearl Harbor. Interestingly, in a couple of cases some of the subjects had written in apologising for their crassness and stupidity.

The tweet that rather sealed my horror was the one below. It is a picture of someone at his grandma’s funeral that they had posted. Bad enough you might think, until you look closer and realise that the selfie taker has accidentally got the casket in the shot too.

I’m obviously a huge fan, and huge user of, social media. The various social platforms are a fantastic way to gain information, track news, and communicate people around the world who share similar interests to you. However, social media platforms are often dismissed as frivolous and self-indulgent when they are actually really important, and these memes do little to dispel the impression that social media is occupied by little more than a collection of narcissistic teenagers.

Teenagers have always been silly and made mistakes, and now social media means that those mistakes are around for everyone to see. However, it’s also true that the tools we know have available – mobile phones with cameras, cellular networks, social media, have altered our behaviour and make people do things that they never would have dreamed of previously. With things like ‘selfies at funerals’, it sometimes feels like social media risks imploding in on itself.