There was a big gas explosion last week in the East Village neighborhood of New York. The fire burned for hours. Two people died.
Naturally, the first reaction of a bunch of nitwits was to take selfies at the scene.
The woman with the selfie stick in the photo below explained herself when people criticized her.
"My intention was to point out how many people post selfies in inappropriate times and it backfired," she said.
I'm not sure I believe her.
Below are two buffoons who actually posted their gleeful selfie on social media.
Here is another social media selfie posted by an Iowa woman who works for a political party. (Perhaps that explains why she is tone-deaf to the nuance of making a tragic scene all about herself.) To be fair, she did apologize -- after her picture went viral and drew many expressions of outrage.
Here is a television news worker grabbing a photo of himself at the same scene.
It's Not Just Us
Actually, Americans are not the only people who display bad manners in the selfie department.
Below are some pictures of Australians taking selfies last year during a 14-hour hostage crisis in Sidney. Two people were killed, and a whole bunch of others took pictures of themselves.
Here is an amusing video of a selfie-shooting French policeman during the investigation of a terrorist siege of a Paris magazine office in which 12 people were killed.
And here is a happy teen letting her friends know that she is at a prison camp where 1.1 million people were exterminated. Look at me! I'm at Auschwitz! :-)
All these pictures are in very poor taste, of course.
But there is another, more basic critique of the selfie phenomenon. It is that, in our eagerness to document our presence at interesting scenes or events or works of art, we sacrifice experiencing what we behold. We do not pay attention to what we see. We turn our backs on the interesting stuff and put our faces in the foreground. Ultimately, everything becomes about us, only about us.