Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 2 April 2016

When Is A Selife Not Okay?

Gemma Styles: Turns Out There's No Occasion Too Inappropriate To Ask For A Selfie

The Debrief: 'Someone once asked for my brother at our grandmother's funeral, and this week a guy asked for a selfie with the man hijacking his plane. When did our selfie obsession get so inappropriate?'

Photo by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

People around the world were watching with baited breath this week, when an EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked by a passenger, eventually landing at a Cyprus airport. In turbulent times, and following recent terrorist atrocities in too many countries around the world, it seemed that this would be another sad news day. Thankfully, the ending to this particular story was a little different. 

When it turned out that the hijacking wasn’t actually terror related and turned out to be a man who’d gone (more than a little) off the rails, really just wanting to see his ex-wife, news outlets quickly turned their attention to another aspect of the story: Ben Innes, a health and safety auditor living in Leeds, decided that there was time during the ordeal to stop and ask for a picture with the supposed terrorist hijacker. Begging the question… When is it NOT acceptable to take a selfie these days?

I think if we took a poll of yay or nay then ‘while you’re being held hostage during a suspected terror attack’ would probably come up as a losing option. No! Bad time for selfies!

Innes’ answer when asked for his thought process when he posed for the picture was “I figured if his bomb was real I’d [have] nothing to lose anyway.” I don’t proclaim to have much knowledge on the psychology of people during life threatening experiences but my instant reaction was – what did you have to gain?! Imagine if that bomb had been real and the outcome had ended up far worse. Imagine investigators and his family finding a picture of him stood grinning next to the man who was about to kill him and a bunch of other people too. Is he going to treasure that photo now?

I think the whole thing is crazy. A lot of people seem to be putting it down to “banter” and the old ‘boys will be boys’ mentality. He’s been called a ‘top lad’. Someone’s argument, I think Innes’ mum, was along the lines of: ‘Well actually everyone is wrong, it wasn’t a selfie because he didn’t take it himself, the stewardess took the picture.’ Because THAT was the point.

I do understand the rise of the selfie. It has essentially replaced the custom of getting an autograph from someone. Now everyone has cameras on them at all times, it’s a more personal way of remembering an occasion when you met someone you admire, fine. But there has got to be a line somewhere. Would you have wanted an autograph from a terrorist hijacker? Or a very troubled non-terrorist hijacker? At the risk of sounding horrendously British – have a bit of bloody decorum, will you?

My most frustrating personal experience of this was the ‘friend’/distant relative at my grandma’s funeral who was trying to bring in her granddaughter or niece or someone to have a picture with my brother. At a funeral. Our grandmother’s funeral. ‘Smh’ doesn’t really cover it.

Here ends another Styles rant. I’ve always been generally too shy/embarrassed to ask for pictures with people (except Neil Buchanan from Art Attack and Rivers Cuomo, both too good to miss – eeeeeeee) but I’m generally not anti-selfie. If they're good enough for the OED then they're good enough for me. However – some people might need to take a second and realise when behaviour just gets weird. You know who you are. 

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'My Name's Gemma Styles. And I'm A Phone-A-Holic'

Follow Gemma Stlyes on Twitter @GemmaAnneStyles


Tags: Selfies, Gemma Styles