Should You Take that Selfie? A Guide for Teens.


Another teen has become an object of public ridicule, after making a dire selfie-related error in judgement. Teens, PLEASE make better selfie choices.

The Daily Mail reports that the latest living example to her fellow teens is Breanna Mitchell, who posted a grinning selfie taken at Auschwitz, complete with pink-cheeked smiling emoji. As viral rage-bait, it couldn’t be more perfect if it had been scientifically engineered in a lab. Now that the photo has escalated into an Internet shitstorm, she says she studied the Holocaust with her recently deceased father, and she was just happy to be making the trip in his honor. But follow-ups like “I’m famous yall” (she’s since protected her tweets; see it here) haven’t helped her case in the court of public opinion.

The pile-on isn’t particularly productive, though. And God knows she’s not the first—there’s an entire Tumblr devoted to selfies taken at serious (and seriously inappropriate) spots. So rather than schooling this particular child, I would like to offer the following guide for teenagers considering taking selfies. As a public service. LISTEN UP, TEENS:

Are you hanging out with your friends, having an old-fashioned good time? Yes. Take a selfie.

Are you making goofy faces, for LOLs? Yes. Take a selfie.

Are you at the site of a terrible historical tragedy, such as a concentration camp? No. Do not take a selfie. If you feel you must commemorate your visit to this specific site, RESPECTFULLY photograph something other than your smiling mug. I don’t care what arguments you want to make in your defense—unless you hit “post” with an essay-length justification, it’s just not a great look. Don’t include a fucking emoji, either.

Have you just survived a plane crash, natural disaster or attempt on your life? Yes. Take a selfie. But consider making your account private unless you want reporters pestering you for interviews.

Are you literally in the middle of an ongoing disaster or crisis? No. Do not take a selfie. Don’t risk your life or create additional problems for emergency personnel. Get to safety, then take your selfie. It’ll keep.

Are you consuming alcohol or holding weed? Of course you shouldn’t take a selfie. You know college admissions officers have the Internet too, right? Besides, that epic keg stand is not actually worthy of memorializing.

Did you just meet a celebrity? Sure. Take a selfie. Just don’t be a pill about it.

Are you standing next to/on train tracks, a highway, or analogous through-way? No. Do not take a selfie, and get the hell out of the way. You shouldn’t need me to tell you this.

Are you standing in front of a homeless person? No. Do not take a selfie. Show some compassion. Unless of course you are actually friends with the homeless person, in which case it’s just taking a selfie with one of your buddies, which is fine.

Is someone in your immediate vicinity dealing with something major? No. Do not take a selfie. Your teacher’s labor pains are not a photo opp. Ditto some stranger’s suicide attempt.

Are you at a funeral? Maybe you can take a selfie. Look, I’m not gonna tell you how to grieve for your grandma. But remember to be respectful of other mourners, and refrain from cheesing it up with the deceased, probably.

Are you standing over a dead body (non-funerary circumstances)? No. Absolutely do not take a selfie. (Why are you standing over a dead body? Is there something you want to tell me?)

Are you posing with a tiger? Do not take a selfie if you’re in New York State, where it’s now illegal. Also it makes you look like a dork on Tinder, sorry.

Have you just achieved something major? Yes, of course you should take a selfie! At its best, social media is a way for distant friends and family to see the big moments in your life. So go ahead and pose with your SAT results, swimming meet trophy, completed Eagle Scout project, diploma, whatever. Unless….

Are you literally onstage accepting your diploma? No. Do not take a selfie. You’re going to create a traffic jam and generally gum up the works, and some of us have dinner reservations.

Have you just committed a crime, such as shoplifting? No. Do not take a selfie. Act like you got some sense. This is the dumbest of dumb ways to get busted.

Have you just had sex? No. No, no, no, for the love of God, no, do not take a selfie. I know it’s new and exciting but please restrain yourself. No one wants to see your damp, post-coital self.

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