A group of people pose for a photo with a selfie stick near the scene of the East Village building collapse. Courtesy @EventPhotosNYC on Twitter.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it at some point during this decade.  Doesn’t matter where, doesn’t matter when, in today’s social media age, especially one where image is (literally) everything, we’ve all taken a selfie.  Or several.  Or too many.

However while social media has slowly begun to control most of our lives in some way, shape or form, the social media savvy have also proven to not be so “social-savvy.”

Albert Einstein said it beautifully more than half a century ago. His words are timeless and priceless: “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

The best example of society’s “selfie-craze” came over the weekend when Christina Freundlich decided it would be a “cool” idea to take a selfie at the scene of the East Village building collapse, while emergency crews were still searching for the bodies of two people that were still missing.  The bodies were found and pulled out on Sunday.

On Friday night, Jon Gurinsky of EventPhotosNYC took a picture of a group using a selfie stick, posing for a picture with the same emergency scene behind them.  If it counts for anything, both the group and Freundlich were smiling in their photos.

To call these pictures dumb or call these people dumb wouldn’t be doing the situation justice.

I’m not calling for their heads in court or anything like that, and the response that followed these pictures were responded to rightfully by New Yorkers, and anyone with an actual working brain.

To put in perspective how disrespectful the idea of taking selfies near an emergency or disaster site is, consider this: (if you could) would you consider taking a selfie by ground zero, smiling with the peace sign up on Sept. 12, 2001?  Would you take a selfie in Staten Island while the Eric Garner situation is happening?  Or would you even take a selfie, smiling and happy and all by someone’s grave?

Over the weekend, the East Village explosion cost two people their lives, injured another 25 and cost everyone within a four building radius on Second Ave. near E. Seventh St. their home.

One commenter on the EventPhotosNYC picture on Twitter perfectly summarized it in their comment: “Everything that’s wrong with NYC summed up in one photo.”

The New York Post also said it best: “Self-absorbed jerks are treating the East Village gas explosion site like a tourist attraction.”

What’s sad is that we’ve become a society where showing where we’ve been and what we’ve been around has overtaken the actual moment itself.  Nobody experiences anything anymore, they just document to prove that they were there.  Could be church, in a car, plane, subway, or something like an emergency or disaster area.

It’s another downfall of what is the “me-me” generation that society has become.  “Look at me, look where I’m at, look what I’m doing, etc.”  And yes, we’re ALL guilty of it.

Everyone has this desire to be liked, respected and even admired, which is all fine.  Selfies, while narcissistic, are totally fine, when at the right place.  Showing off your outfit on your first day of work or school is fine, showing off where you’re going if it’s somewhere pretty awesome is fine, showing off your significant other, while it can be annoying, is even fine.

But to show off a disaster scene, let alone to take a happy selfie at a pretty bad site is just plain disgusting, classless and overall makes the person taking the selfie look like a low-class person.

Freundlich, a former employee of the Iowa Democratic party, has taken the pitcure down and issue an apology to the Des Moines Register.

“It was inconsiderate to those hurt in the crash and to the city of New York,” she said.  “What happened last week in the East Village is not to be taken lightly and I regret my course of action.”

The selfie taking at the East Village scene hasn’t stopped.  Even today, tourists have been reported to continue the selfie taking — and of course, they’re doing so with the selfie stick.

The bright spot to this disgusting story is that actual New Yorkers, those of which who still have a brain and are not all about documenting the moment, have stepped up to help those affected by the explosion.  The Standard Hotel offered a free three-night stay at its East Village facility to anyone with proof they lived in the now destroyed buildings and Uber offered free rides from the East Village-Second Avenue area.

It’s still remarkable to know that New Yorkers help their own in time of need. At least for the most part.

But for those who are on the scene to “document the moment,” well, I’m pretty sure those helping the ones in need, the families affected and myself included can all tell you what you can do with that selfie stick.



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