Don’t tell anyone how to grieve, specially children.
November 2, 2013 12:22 PM   Subscribe

These days, selfies are how we make ourselves real, to ourselves and to the outside world. So, it’s no wonder that some of us turn to our iPhones in these moments of loss. It’s a way of saying, “I still exist.”
posted by Brandon Blatcher (106 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
And if the selfie-brigade spent their time being involved in the well-being of others more than taking yet another meaningless, redundant and useless picture of themselves and then think up self-justifying arguments, then others would know they exist, too. Emotional investment and interaction is truly a beautiful thing...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:30 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Emotional investment and interaction is truly a beautiful thing...

Quoth the internet snarker on yet another meaningless, redundant, and useless website.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:42 PM on November 2, 2013 [48 favorites]


I give my tacit approval of your comment by flipping a single bit in a massive database.
posted by helicomatic at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm usually pretty enured to the whole selfie thing, doesn't phase me at all, people are fascinated by their own image, that's why we all have mirrors and take care of how we present to the world. But selfies at funerals taps deeply into my "oh god we're fucked” vibe. I just don't understand why anyone would do it.
posted by Caskeum at 12:49 PM on November 2, 2013 [30 favorites]


I don't think I've ever taken a selfie in my life but thinking about this, it would have been helpful to have a photo of myself at my mom's funeral*. Here's why: I have almost no memories of the event, was so numb in that moment and for so long afterwards that instead of dealing with how I felt, it all just got buried because it was the path of least resistance. Decades later, processing the loss of her is something I still haven't finished (oy), seeing a photo of me there feels like it would have helped, like I could look at the photo of that girl and think, "See you were there, it happened, it's over and you will be OK."

(*well, maybe not with the casket in the background. And no duck lips.)
posted by jamaro at 12:53 PM on November 2, 2013 [41 favorites]


This does seem to speak to a fundamental and kind of scary inability to be anything other than self-regarding, even at what should be a very other-centered moment.

(jamaro, it makes sense that now-you would want a photo of yourself back then. But would you have thought to take one? And pose, caption and publish it?)
posted by Bardolph at 12:57 PM on November 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Thanks for this post. I've been trying to process why this whole backlash against the funeral selfies thing has been rubbing me the wrong way, and these articles sum it up nicely.

I know that I'm not the sort of person who would take a picture like that, but I'm not about to go railing at people who do just because I don't understand them. At least a few of the photos on that tumblr are of kids who are visibly upset and are reaching out to their friends. Some of them look like they're just bored and trying to find a little entertainment on a day which must be pretty emotionally stressful. I don't know exactly why they're doing it, but I'm willing to spend a little mental energy trying to figure it out. It feels a whole lot better to do that then to wing one off at "kids today" who I'm pretty sure have had enough lazy media pot-shots taken at them already. Rather than asking myself how self-centred they are, I instead wonder why someone's first reaction when they see a picture of a kid at a funeral isn't understanding or pity for their loss, but anger. I thought we'd be better than that by now.
posted by fight or flight at 12:59 PM on November 2, 2013 [33 favorites]


No, it would be private to me because I'm a private person (so much so that I almost didn't post the above comment). But what is right for me isn't right for everyone.
posted by jamaro at 12:59 PM on November 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


If your default method of communicating with your friends about events in your life is by posting a captioned picture of yourself, you're probably going to do that at a funeral.
posted by helicomatic at 1:05 PM on November 2, 2013 [38 favorites]


Of course I find these gross and offputting, and I'd probably scold any young cousin for taking one. But as it is, I'm aware that there's a generational difference speaking here. We are now equally appalled with our ancestors for dressing up the recently dead, even painting eyes on their closed eyelids, and posing with the corpses, because we have a horror of the dead. But what they wanted was a memorandum of self at time of mourning, also. Today, older people associate smartphones with self-absorption, and there's a good reason for that, but it's just as knee-jerk even so.

I remember feeling a stab of guilt because, when we saw my grandmother begin to die, I was at her bedside reading my iPhone. (Metafilter, in fact.) Mind you, I put it down instantly. But why did I feel bad? We had all been in a vigil for days over her, and she wasn't conscious. I had already finished a giant gloomy Norwegian novel while at her side; my older relatives were reading, too. Was that any different? Why should it be?

We're all adjusting to technology, every day, and most of us never really finish the adjustment before we too are sent away.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2013 [20 favorites]


Following a link trial, I also found this article about funeral selfies on Jezebel. I thought this was an interesting take on it:
What if we gave our duckfaced n'er do wells the obligation to engage with the real processes of death, to remind them that when someone dies that there is a real corpse and real grief left behind. Death is not an abstract concept. They could take part in a physical and emotional ritual beyond awkwardly lining up to file by an embalmed and made up body the funeral director has laid out under rose colored lights. No wonder these teenagers retreat to the bathroom to fix their hair and take a selfie in the mirror out of impotence and boredom. Our cultural traditions have failed them, and selfies at funerals are one of their only outlets to ritual and mourning in the age of the smartphone.
posted by fight or flight at 1:09 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


The only time I take a selfie is when I need to update a profile pic, and I guess I don't understand the concept. But at a funeral? If you have to take the pic, why in Heaven's name to you have to POST it? Ugh.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:14 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


But at a funeral? If you have to take the pic, why in Heaven's name to you have to POST it? Ugh.

"I still exist."
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Evidently selfies are not quite so self-validating as disapproval of the other.
posted by walrus at 1:24 PM on November 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


In fifty years, imagine the outrage at the AIs on our iPhones taking pictures of themselves at our funerals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:25 PM on November 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


I remember being about twelve and in New Orleans for my uncle's funeral. He was my dad's brother and I hadn't known him at all, but was with Dad for the summer, he was burying his brother, so there you go.

Several of us kids ended up playing tag in the parking lot outside. We were told to stop, because it was a funeral. I wandered around a bit after that, then asked Dad when we could go, because I was bored. Naturally he wasn't happy with that question and pointed out he was burying his brother. I didn't particularly care, because I didn't know the guy, was throughly sick of summer with Dad, it was summer in New Orleans and I had been in damn suit for hours.

So yeah, if I had bee in possession of camera at the time, I might have taken a selfie. 30 years on, with a camera and the internet never far from my grasp, I might take one now and post it somewhere, for any number of more mature reasons that only I or those very close to me would know.

That's the thing about 1) people 2) photos 3) internet. People aren't always rational, a photo is literally just a moment in time and the internet is now our campfire, bulletin board and water cooler. We share on a larger scale and a lot of younger people seem to be ok with that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:26 PM on November 2, 2013 [24 favorites]


jamaro, it makes sense that now-you would want a photo of yourself back then. But would you have thought to take one? And pose, caption and publish it?


...why in Heaven's name to you have to POST it? Ugh.


I understand the desire for a photo, but most people grieving IMO, are too wrapped up in the emotion of the moment to be that aware of self. And people who would pose, caption, and publish have gone beyond self-aware into some other, more advanced, self state.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:28 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alexandra Kitty: And if the selfie-brigade spent their time being involved in the well-being of others more than taking yet another meaningless, redundant and useless picture of themselves and then think up self-justifying arguments, then others would know they exist, too. Emotional investment and interaction is truly a beautiful thing...

What are you saying here? This is such a ridiculous statement that I don't exactly know how to respond to it.

When you're a young kid and one of your grandparents are dying it isn't your fault. You don't have the utilities and experience to be involved in their well-being, and besides, they (or your parents) have been in charge of their well-being for longer than you've been alive. I don't know how you can sit there and act as if they haven't given emotional investment and interaction simply because they took a photo of themselves. That is a pretty big leap to make. It's almost as if you are saying "grandma died because you were too busy playing with your iPhone" when in actuality grandma died because she was old and has had health problems for longer than you've been alive.

St. Alia of the Bunnies: The only time I take a selfie is when I need to update a profile pic, and I guess I don't understand the concept. But at a funeral? If you have to take the pic, why in Heaven's name to you have to POST it? Ugh.

It says it in the link that's in the post, "It's a way of saying: I still exist."

I don't understand why this is such a big deal, and I especially don't understand the very first comment of this thread. There are plenty of people who have had photos taken of them at funerals or standing next to the coffin. The fact that you can now do it yourself because there are photos with front-facing cameras and then post it to people only changes things because it's suddenly ubiquitous enough to be outraged by. I've seen old photos of my relatives posing next to their dead relatives, it's always struck me as a completely normal thing. It's just "weird" now because it's the 21st century and teenagers can do it and post it on instagram. Is it really that strange that maybe people want sympathy or consolation from their friends? It isn't very meaningless and useless if it serves as a valid utility for an individual.
posted by gucci mane at 1:29 PM on November 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


I have difficulty finding this outrageous. None of the photos shown have been taken without the approval of anyone depicted. If this is one of the ways they cope, then fine. It's not as if they are planking on the casket.
posted by arcticseal at 1:29 PM on November 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Maybe we could not try to regulate the emotional responses of other people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:34 PM on November 2, 2013 [29 favorites]


No matter how obnoxious taking a selfie at, before or after a funeral might be, it pales in docuhebaggery by whichever asshat who thought it was a good idea to devote a tumblr to these in the first place. "Look at how awful these otherawful people" are is like the easiest fucking thing to do on the internet, requiring neither wit nor intelligence and that sort of practise should not be encouraged.

Not that this means we need yet another round of chinstroking by the usual suspects about what this particular internet practise means for the state of the modern world and how we should condemn or celebrate it.

It's just a stupid, possibly insensitive thing people do and post to their facebooks or twitters because that's what you do with everything you experience, that's how you communicate in the 21st century, meant for their friends and family and meaningless when taken out of context, other than as fodder for the internet outrage machine.

Do not engage.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:37 PM on November 2, 2013 [19 favorites]


You don't have the utilities and experience to be involved in their well-being...

Is it really that strange that maybe people want sympathy or consolation from their friends? It isn't very meaningless and useless if it serves as a valid utility for an individual.

It's not as if they are planking on the casket.


Seems like not being involved would annual the need for sympathy or consolation.

Yes, I suppose, in theory, I could see the idea of using a selfie for this purpose, however, I'm a big fan of using your words. Writing out a eulogy or a short para on your feelings feels more productive to me, but I understand some people can be inarticulate about such things.

Actually, I could see someone planking on the casket--hey, grandma would have gotten a hellufa kick out of this!
posted by BlueHorse at 1:38 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I try not to have an opinion about the way other people use technology if it doesn't affect me. Especially younger people. Especially if I disapprove. Because whatever I think they're doing wrong is no more serious than the sin of me being a desperate out of touch fussbudget.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:38 PM on November 2, 2013 [19 favorites]


No. When you are fourteen, and your gran has just died, and you're flexing in a mirror and your tie is too short and has a knot with its own gravitational field, someone needs to (metaphorically) slap you and say, "Show some fucking respect."

This is part of how we become adults.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:40 PM on November 2, 2013 [29 favorites]


Taking a picture someone posted on the internet for their family, friends, etc. and taking it out of that context and publicizing it in order to laugh at or cluck your tongue at it is such an act of unprovoked aggression, that you better be using it to condemn something truly heinous if the awfulness of the thing you're condemning is going to outweigh the awfulness of your calling them out.

I'm down with people calling out bigotry, bullying, and the like this way. But calling out people failing to display the kind of respect for their dead relatives that I consider necessary does not rise to that level.

Especially when it's a bandwagon traveling down the deeply rutted tracks of "oh those self-absorbed young people with their cell phones."

So yeah, I agree with the article, nobody has a right to call these people out and it is not anybody's business how other people behave when their loved ones die.

And it's entirely true that funeral selfies can be innocent. People sometimes put themselves in a picture to remind themselves at a later time of their experience at that event. Unless they fucking emailed you that goddamned photo, it is not your business to be poking into their photo stream and finding a funeral so you can judge them on what you find.

Just because something is available on the internet doesn't mean it's *appropriate* or *decent behavior* to publicize it further.
posted by edheil at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2013 [20 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: No. When you are fourteen, and your gran has just died, and you're flexing in a mirror and your tie is too short and has a knot with its own gravitational field, someone needs to (metaphorically) slap you and say, "Show some fucking respect."

This is part of how we become adults.


Is it? I had no idea there was a world-wide standard on how to become an adult. I wish I had known that when I was a teenager.

People grieve differently. Taking a selfie is a harmless act and it has a utility of being an uplifting one for an individual. Everyone else should deal with it.
posted by gucci mane at 1:46 PM on November 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


Yes, I suppose, in theory, I could see the idea of using a selfie for this purpose, however, I'm a big fan of using your words. Writing out a eulogy or a short para on your feelings feels more productive to me, but I understand some people can be inarticulate about such things.

When my cousin died, I remember thinking, "This will make a great poem." It did. I felt like a cannibal.

"Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I'd fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, 'So this is how it feels,' and I would tie it up in pretty words. I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else. My son died. And I was hurt, but I watched my hurt, and even relished it, a little, for now I could write a real death, a true loss. My heart was broken by my dark lady, and I wept, in my room, alone; but while I wept, somewhere inside I smiled. For I knew I could take my broken heart and place it on the stage of The Globe, and make the pit cry tears of their own.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, "The Wake"
posted by nicebookrack at 1:50 PM on November 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


For all the talk about self-centeredness etc., isn't every ritual around death centered on how the living feel and cope, ultimately? To paraphrase Chandler, the dead sleep the big sleep, oblivious to the ways of this world. It's only the living who can attribute meaning to death, meaning which usually focuses on those among the living, in the end.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:52 PM on November 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


planking on the casket

Now there's an idea. I hope someone thinks of that at my funeral.
posted by walrus at 1:55 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


When my cousin died, I remember thinking, "This will make a great poem." It did. I felt like a cannibal.

nicebookrack, I'm writing a character who's a 20-something self-involved celeb to boot, and now I'm trying to figure out how to use this idea (funeral selfies) in the script! So, I guess I'm cannibalizing this second-hand.

Just because something is available on the internet doesn't mean it's *appropriate* or *decent behavior* to publicize it further.

But are you saying we can make judgments about the former (the tumblr) but not the other (the original tweets)?

Yeah, everybody's different in how they handle crappy times. But I simply find some of these images and hashtags smug and/ or bizarre. My feeling was, "I can never un-see those little poseur d-bags."

planking on the casket
Now there's an idea. I hope someone thinks of that at my funeral.


I'm going to be cremated - harder on an urn.
posted by NorthernLite at 2:03 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to be cremated

I really haven't thought about it. My other half asked me once how I would like to be disposed of in the event, and my response was "well I won't really give a shit at that point".

Grief is deeply personal, and how we respond to it is fundamentally no-one elses business though. I'm reminded of the irreverence of Eric Idol's funeral. I'm sure if he could have he'd have been smiling about that.
posted by walrus at 2:08 PM on November 2, 2013


Eric Idle's DEAD???!!??
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:10 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


if i could do some kind of deal where my future children are guaranteed to take lots of selfies at my funeral but in return the genie guarantees they will never, not even once, post a low-effort unempathetic internet judgment, i would be all over that
posted by a birds at 2:11 PM on November 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


Graham Chapman then.
posted by walrus at 2:12 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


But selfies at funerals taps deeply into my "oh god we're fucked” vibe. I just don't understand why anyone would do it.

The cause of that is the funeral not the selfie.
posted by srboisvert at 2:12 PM on November 2, 2013


Not sure how I managed that brainfart.
posted by walrus at 2:13 PM on November 2, 2013


Kids these days.
posted by salvia at 2:13 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a relief to see young people who aren't tiptoeing around death, putting roadblocks of etiquette around it. Children and teens are herded into very constricted ways of mourning the dead, and often their own feelings and emotions are entirely discounted. Yet the ways they process grief are really interesting and worth considering (I'm saying this as someone who lost loved ones at a very young age.) But even adults could learn from the Funeral Selfie, because unlike every other way we engage with the dead at funerals, this is about celebration of life. These are young people celebrating themselves, in the vain, vibrant, conflicted way they do, and I can't help but think that the departed would smile if they could see them, knowing that life is carrying on in spite of the loss. These kids are fine, and in their own way, they're exploring what death means and what life means. The "selfie" in general isn't even worth decrying, old folks - girls are learning how to control and reclaim the images of themselves in an age where that's becoming increasingly important.
posted by naju at 2:14 PM on November 2, 2013 [25 favorites]


The cause of that is the funeral not the selfie.
posted by srboisvert at 2:12 PM on November 2 [+] [!]

Nope, pretty sure it's the selfie.
posted by Caskeum at 2:14 PM on November 2, 2013


These are young people celebrating themselves, in the vain, vibrant, conflicted way they do, and I can't help but think that the departed would smile if they could see them, knowing that life is carrying on in spite of the loss.

Yes, because of course what I'd want people to be get out of my funeral is an opportunity to burnish their narcissism.

Teenagers are obsessed with themselves; it's a stage we all pass through. One of the things you're supposed to learn to get to the other side is that other people are real, that there's a light inside them that burns as brightly as your own, that in the grand scheme of things personal is not always the same as important, and that one of things you must do in order to be a good person is to care for others and treat them with respect. Funerals are excellent opportunities for putting these things into practice, precisely because they are difficult and awkward and stressful and trying. Therefore it is even more import that one attempts to be extra-respectful, extra-careful and considerate of other people's feelings, to be more engaged with the people around you and less concerned with yourself. Using it as your millionth opportunity to practice your duckface ain't any of those things.
posted by Diablevert at 2:26 PM on November 2, 2013 [18 favorites]


If your default method of communicating with your friends about events in your life is by posting a captioned picture of yourself, you're probably going to do that at a funeral.

Chicken dinner. It seems weird to me too, but I've never taken a picture of myself.

"Look at how awful these otherawful people" are is like the easiest fucking thing to do on the internet, requiring neither wit nor intelligence and that sort of practise should not be encouraged.

Good point. Applies offline as well.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:31 PM on November 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Disclaimer: I was raised old-school. I would have been slapped upside the head by my 엄마 if I so much as thought "selfie" while at a funeral.

Most (all?) of these children pictured in these funeral selfies probably do not know what it means to be alive (not that most [any?] adults do, either), so they can hardly be faulted for not knowing what it means to lose someone to death and for not knowing how to pay respect to the dead in accordance with the emotional and spiritual needs of adults.

Some of the children clearly understand they are violating or breaking a taboo (e.g. "this was a funeral selfie am I going to hell ((yes))").

For me, these children taking and publicizing selfies is lamentable and, in my opinion, they should be taught why what they are doing is disprespectful to the dead. Not because the dead care, but because the bereaved do. (Just to be clear, saying "I still exist" is about the only thing children know how to say, period, from the moment they are born until about 25. [Yes, hyperbole.])

I like to think that had I children, I would not bring them to a funeral unless they understood the emotional significance of the ceremony enough to know they must try (their best) to mind the feelings of others. (I am experientially ignorant of the needs and requirements of a parent and know this paragraph and the next are pure fantasy. Parents, please bear with.)

Presuming I'd not insisted they refrain from using their phones at the funeral unless asked to by an adult, I would ground them if they posted a funeral selfie to a social media site. A before- or after-funeral selfie posted to social media would get a lecture and suspension of phone privileges. (Life is messy. This would not work with real children. Yes, fanatasy over.)

But I don't have children, so I don't blame these children (or their parents) for being raised differently than I would raise children of my own.

While I personally feel these funeral selfies are unfortunate, I look forward to pre-adult human beings taking selfies of their own once I've kicked the bucket and maybe coming to learn something about the the world of the living as they experience one of likely many such departures until the day they themselves are laid to rest.
posted by mistersquid at 2:38 PM on November 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm reminded of a recent piece from a recent episode of Welcome to Night Vale:
We all do foolish things when we are teenagers. We all have foolish false events that happen to us, foolish gaps in our memories. Not everything that has happened, has ever really happened.

Listeners, especially our younger listeners, consider this:

When we talk about teenagers, we adults often talk with an air of scorn, of expectation for disappointment. And this can make people who are presently teenagers feel very defensive.

But what everyone should understand is that none of us are talking to the teenagers that exist now, but talking back to the teenager we ourselves once were – all stupid mistakes and lack of fear, and bodies that hadn’t yet begun to slump into a lasting nothing.

Any teenager who exists now is incidental to the potent mix of nostalgia and shame with which we speak to our younger selves.

May we all remember what it was like to be so young. May we remember it factually, and not remember anything that is false, or incorrect.

May we all be human – beautiful, stupid, temporal, endless.

And as the sun sets, I place my hand upon my heart, feel that it is still beating, and remind myself: Past performance is not a predictor of future results.

Stay tuned now for whatever happens next in your life.
posted by fight or flight at 2:51 PM on November 2, 2013 [37 favorites]


Maybe we could not try to regulate the emotional responses of other people.

This is excellent advice. Maybe we can apply it to people's emotional response to funerals and also to people's emotional response to funeral selfies.
posted by rocket88 at 2:54 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


because of course what I'd want people to be get out of my funeral is an opportunity to burnish their narcissism.

Can't say I much care what anyone gets out of my funeral. Can't say I've ever given it much thought, really. I suppose I think that it's worse to neglect Grandma while she was alive, than to take a selfie a her funeral when she's dead. "Pics or it didn't happen" isn't creepier or more narcissistic than spending thousands of dollars to memorialize her in wood and stone.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Teenagers doing goofy, awkward, ill-advised and possibly insensitive things in response to difficult and unfamiliar social situations? Fairly understandable.
Exploiting these photos for click bait? As MartinWisse said, douchebaggery.

Actually, I could see someone planking on the casket--hey, grandma would have gotten a hellufa kick out of this!

I'd draw the line at twerking the casket though.
posted by islander at 2:58 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have two thoughts on this:

All my life, I've heard people talk about how they want their funerals to be a celebration, not a solemn occasion, blah, blah, blah. And I'm 36, so I can only imagine that holds doubly true for teenagers. We can't spend all our damn time telling them it's supposed to be a celebration and then smack them down when they take us at our word.

Teenagers find a lot of community and support online through things like taking selfies and posting Facebook statuses and whatnot. If a kid has found their tribe on Instagram and they want to turn to that group of friends for support at a time of loss, should they really be expected to step out of their usual mode of interaction and find some other way to get that support? Is it not enough that they're grieving and reaching out? Must they do it in an Official Curmudgeon Approved manner?
posted by jacquilynne at 2:59 PM on November 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


I saw the original post on The Atlantic, where the message was, "look and laugh at these stupid, egocentric kids."

I left a Disqus comment wondering how ethical it was to post photos of children for all the world to laugh at, and of course the troglodyte brigade shouted me down.

It's a sick culture sometimes. Fuck The Atlantic.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:04 PM on November 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Related: Selfies at Serious Places
posted by madamjujujive at 3:17 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Haven't these kids ever seen a horror movie? This is *exactly* the kind of behavior that Death and/or Monsters get mad at.
posted by rue72 at 3:23 PM on November 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The negative reactions to this are bizarre to me. Is it okay to laugh while at a funeral? Or get drunk at a wake? Go ahead and be all dour and act like you're in an elevator with strangers if that's the way a person's life is memorialized in your culture but realize it's hardly universal.
posted by XMLicious at 3:30 PM on November 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


If someone takes a selfie at my funeral please prop my corpse up behind them so I can photobomb it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:58 PM on November 2, 2013 [34 favorites]


I don't understand the whole selfie thing because I'm too old for it, but, being a bit older, I've been to my share of funerals, and the temptation to be a bit irreverent at a funeral is strong. I'd hate to have the internet know some of the things I've said at funerals. Then again, no danger of that because I would never post them for the world to see--but I guess with selfies, the whole point is posting them, yes? Not sure if that's what's going on here, giving in to the delicious temptation to do the wrong thing at a serious moment, but if so then I think it's pretty normal.
posted by HotToddy at 4:07 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not nearly as outraged by this as I am by dickpicturesatfunerals.tumblr.com. I mean, come on.
posted by Random Person at 4:23 PM on November 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can understand the need to identify "hey, I am here and experiencing something", and posting a photo representing my experience at the funeral. What I don't get is the narcissism and sexuality exhibited in the photos. Taking a photo of yourself looking neutral, smiling or somber beside an image of the deceased makes sense.
Taking an image of yourself posed in an overtly sexualized way, meant to enhance your own looks ( plumped duckface lips, T n A postures, emphasis on outfit attractiveness) only functions as a vanity. Really, you show you miss Grandpa by carefully posing in the most flattering, sexy way possible? That is not about Grandpa - that makes the funeral all about YOU. The studied,supposed casualness of the shot undermines any genuine expression of grief - the point of funerals is that someone has moved past their physical state of being, and we are focusing on the absence of their physical form, and the remainder of the non-physical legacy of the deceased. It is a really important moment that doesn't occur often while growing up, and needs to be truly felt in order to grow...
posted by NorthernAutumn at 4:25 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not nearly as outraged by this as I am by dickpicturesatfunerals.tumblr.com. I mean, come on.

I don't see the problem. Every funeral's got at least one stiff already.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:27 PM on November 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Selfies are about getting validation. In normal time, you post a picture and people click "like" because they either appreciate you as a person or think you're looking good. You get a hit of nice feelings with every notification. You can get that instant flood of validation any time you want, just by hitting a button.

So imagine being at a funeral, a low point for anyone. You're hurting and you feel alone. A flood of warm feelings can be yours and all you have to do is fire up Instagram for a second. Could the 15-year-old you turn that down?
posted by the jam at 4:29 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Here in Portland, there has been a big trend of people spending time in sensory deprivation "float" tanks. When they first started coming into vogue, I did not think much of it. Then my old man receptors started going off. Are people really to the point where they aren't isolated enough from humanity after spending 8 hours at work staring at a screen, 90 minutes commuting staring at another screen in your hand, only to come home and stare at another screen in your entertainment center that you need to pay someone forty five dollars an hour to someone to slot you into an abyss of nothingness to get away from it all?

So I can't be surprised when people take an event that is inherently about someone else and finding comfort in the living breathing warm loving bodies of your friends and family is seen by new generations as a place to take self portraits.
posted by mediocre at 4:52 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


helicomatic's comment was very helpful for me to remember that our behavior norms are different nowadays: If your default method of communicating with your friends about events in your life is by posting a captioned picture of yourself, you're probably going to do that at a funeral.

On the other hand, I think the rise of the visual/aesthetic and the role of public-facing photo-heavy social media services are things to talk about. But I think I'm not very insightful yet because I find I have to restrain my default "ugh stop with the GPOY" reaction to selfies on Tumblr. This is a version of identity formation and relationship building I did not have as a teenager/college student.

I also think I have a knee-jerk reaction when selfies are posted by people who read as conventionally attractive. When a genderqueer activist posts a selfie I take it as political. When a seemingly popular in that John Hughes movie kind of way (and I've dated myself, Gen X in the house!) person posts a selfie I assume it's gratuitous.
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:55 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find the gendered aspect of selfies to be fascinating and I am yet to be convinced that selfies are a bad thing, despite articles trying to connect them with internalized misogyny. The arguments in favour of controlling and disseminating your own image, taking pride in your appearance, unequivocally telling people to look at you in a way you frame and present - these all seem great to me.

Also, it kills me when people talk about the rise of selfies like they is the death knell of culture when so so many esteemed works of art are simply self portraits done in oil on canvas.
posted by hepta at 5:18 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Random Person: "I'm not nearly as outraged by this as I am by dickpicturesatfunerals.tumblr.com. I mean, come on."

Well, at least that was better than scatgirlsatfuneralsfuckyeah.tumblr.com.
posted by Samizdata at 5:35 PM on November 2, 2013


I also have exactly two selfies of me hidden away on my Dropbox and they only existed since I wanted to be able to share them with a couple of other MeFis (And they are 100% SFW). (Sometimes I like having a face to put to a name.) The only picture of me on Facebook that I know of is a family picture another family member uploaded and tagged me in. (It's a young kid, so I am not so mad.)

Other than that, y'all don't need to be looking at me being retarded at various places.

And, before you ask, neither of my selfies are with duckface.
posted by Samizdata at 5:39 PM on November 2, 2013


I don't see the problem. Every funeral's got at least one stiff already.

Also known as "mourning wood".
posted by rifflesby at 6:54 PM on November 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


I’m totally puzzled by the harsh reactions. Some of the pictures are a bit tacky, most are a bit narcissistic, but they’re by teenagers so it’s no stranger or more outrageous than anything else in their lives: their taste in music, clothes or whatever.

I’ll take a selfie snapping teenager at a funeral over a self absorbed, dipshit adult any day. For example, the priest who insisted on asking me intrusive questions about the death of my brother, who had died a few years before, at my mother’s funeral.

Be nice to these kids, they’re the ones who one day will get to decide whether to bury, burn or dump you.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 6:55 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, when my grandfather died two years ago, I couldn't go because I'd just had a baby, and a bunch of my cousins posted phone snapshots (including a few selfies, though no duckface) to facebook, and I thought it was great. It was hard for me not to be there to mourn with my family, but to be able to see pictures of everyone at the church, and all my little cousins getting so big, and everyone gathered together, was really comforting to me.

They also took a formal family picture that I have safely tucked away in the family Bible, but honestly the phone snaps that my teenaged cousins were posting DURING the visitation and funeral helped me feel connected and not alone. They're good-mannered, responsible kids, and most of my aunts and uncles said they liked seeing the pictures online; it didn't seem to be an issue for the people who were there.

I guess looking at pictures of someone ELSE'S relative's funeral is a little more uncomfortable because it feels a little invasive, but I was really grateful when it was my relative's funeral.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:57 PM on November 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I lost a very close family member when I was fifteen, after an extended illness that had involved driving with my family for three hours each way on at least a dozen previous occasions because it was supposed to be the final moments. I don't remember a lot of the funeral, but I do remember stuff like cracking stupid jokes when we were on the way out there, and playing car games that hadn't been amusing since I was like seven, and spending a lot of time wanting to be anywhere but there. The feelings were big and horrible and I was not good at coping, and thankfully nobody judged me for that. My uncle spent the whole time drunk. I think that, as coping mechanisms go, taking stupid pictures is relatively functional.

The kid who took a picture with the photo of his grandmother made me cry.
posted by Sequence at 7:04 PM on November 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


> Also known as "mourning wood".

I have no words. You win at everything ever.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:08 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This does seem to speak to a fundamental and kind of scary inability to be anything other than self-regarding, even at what should be a very other-centered moment.

Pretty much sums up how I feel about the site's curator, especially since hearing him on Radio National this morning. What a tiresome little man.
posted by flabdablet at 7:55 PM on November 2, 2013


I also think I have a knee-jerk reaction when selfies are posted by people who read as conventionally attractive. When a genderqueer activist posts a selfie I take it as political. When a seemingly popular in that John Hughes movie kind of way (and I've dated myself, Gen X in the house!) person posts a selfie I assume it's gratuitous.

This is an interesting thread of conversation in and of itself. You are not alone in this feeling, i see this sentiment all the time online. Someone not traditionally attractive or with a generally non-mainstream style/appearance/etc takes a photo of themselves? radical act! someone "normal" or pretty or whatever does? "ugh stop farming for attention everyone already likes you". Others reactions to this sort of thing can really get to me at times as well.

As for the funeral selfies thing, i'm fairly conflicted.

On one hand i think there is an element of this sort of snobby little veruca salt brat-ness here where at least some of these photos are "ugh, i'm getting drug to this thing by my mom i don't want to go to". I get this read from some of the "at least i have a cute outfit teehee!" ones. And i'm saying this as someone who occasionally felt that way going to funerals for someone i didn't even really know when i was younger.

On the other hand, i think all the arguments made above about the Greater Wrong and rudeness being creating this tumblr, and digging through other peoples photo streams and such to mine for these being... pretty gross. It's gross in a similar but also greater and different way than something like peopleofwalmart. Yes, these people are taking the photos themselves. But you're taking it out of context and ragging on them in a place where they don't even know that's occurring which is sort of a brand new form of evil cyber bullying shit that's premiered in the past couple years.

MeFi is not immune to this disease either. I've absolutely seen FPPs devolve in to "haha lets shit on this person this post is about and they'll never know" in so many multitudes of ways.(example of one type, but there's been others where the person who directly wrote a linked blog post or some such is getting slagged on).

So if i have to pick one side to bomb here, it's going to be the tumblr itself. And i could write a whole other paragraph about how tumblr itself is a site that has serious, 4chan like issues with picking a certain type of person to horribly make fun of behind closed doors.

But on some level, i can understand why someone would make this blog. There is something gross about the attitude i read from some of these photos. That's just me reading in to something which may or may not be there(and sometimes, i feel the caption backs me up) but i can kinda see it. They go too far and just post anyone who posts a selfie at a funeral, but i kinda get the premise of negativity there here and there.

The people unilaterally shitting on anyone who takes a photo like this though are just as much of assholes as the person who created the tumblr, however.

Pretty much sums up how I feel about the site's curator, especially since hearing him on Radio National this morning. What a tiresome little man.

Are you at all surprised that the guy sounds like a cock though? i mean what did you really expect.
posted by emptythought at 8:01 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is an interesting thread of conversation in and of itself. You are not alone in this feeling, i see this sentiment all the time online. Someone not traditionally attractive or with a generally non-mainstream style/appearance/etc takes a photo of themselves? radical act!

I wonder what happens when you, like I have, reach middle age, and everyone is conventionally more attractive than you are?

In other words, get off of my lawn.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:03 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: Maybe we could not try to regulate the emotional responses of other people.
I forbid you to think that!
posted by IAmBroom at 8:43 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I come from a big Catholic family and the importance of going to funerals and wakes in order to provide support and comfort for the living was drilled into me early. Often, I was too young to remember any funny or poignant stories about Great Uncle Joe, so my job was only to be there.

I would spend half the time explaining to people who I am ("I'm Dani, [mom] and [dad]'s middle daughter. You know [dad], [grandma] and [grandpa]'s oldest son.") and what I'm doing in school and all of the time feeling weird in my clothes. In this way, it was a lot like any semi-annual whole-family gathering: reunions, weddings of people you don't know, super-old person's birthday. Those are occasions where kids are probably supposed to feel things they don't feel, but they're allowed or even encouraged to take pictures. You may see people you haven't seen in ages, people who you do love and are happy to see. If you're the type to document every decent meal and good hair day, fuck yeah you're gonna take a picture with your cousin at the funeral.

I know a lot of people who take selfies to check their hair and makeup (this would exclude the mirror ones, obvi) then post some of them if they look ok. If you're supposed to be feeling some heavy emotion that you may not be feeling, I can understand taking the selfie to check that you're doing an ok job. A lot of these say, to me, "Look at my situationally appropriate frowny face! I am in an awkward and confusing situation and I'm doing it right."
posted by MsDaniB at 9:31 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu: "I wonder what happens when you, like I have, reach middle age, and everyone is conventionally more attractive than you are?"

Post selfies with impunity?
posted by Drexen at 9:40 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe we could not try to regulate the emotional responses of other people.

Although there are practical limits to what is considered appropriate behavior, even when people are feeling emotional (and in some cases, especially when they are). The discussion in part is trying to figure out where the line is drawn in a time when technology is pressing up against social norms. It's not too weird to ask whether taking pictures at funerals might not always be appropriate, even if the answer ends up being that we need to lighten up a bit and try to understand better the upcoming generation.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:55 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


When my grandparents were quite old, I remember my dad and my brother and I sitting down with them and going through their photo albums. The purpose was to get them to talk about the pictures and who was in them and where they were taken so that we had some of the history that would go along with them when the inevitable happened.

I had several strong reactions to some photos - basically, they were of someone in a coffin, with their spouse/family/whomever standing beside it. They seemed wildly inappropriate to me.

After we left, my Dad asked which photos were giving me problems, so I explained. He let me know that at the time and in the places where my grandparents had lived, cameras and photographers were pretty rare and expensive - weddings and funerals were some of the few moments where photographs were possible, so people got their pictures taken. Which is why the old family photo albums had pictures of those moments, no matter how inappropriate it seemed to me in my time.

Now cameras are ubiquitous, so I guess it isn't surprising that we have self-photography at funerals. Why not? People take pictures of themselves everywhere else.
posted by nubs at 10:03 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not too weird to ask whether taking pictures at funerals might not always be appropriate

I agree that it's a question worth asking. The problem is that far too many people skip that step and head right to scolding, bashing and mocking. That's no way to start a constructive dialogue.

Personally, funeral selfies make me uncomfortable, so I won't take them myself. I most definitely wouldn't appreciate someone asking me to take a selfie, so why would I ask them not to? The only people who have the right to ask are the ones holding the funeral, imho. Fellow attendees should leave each other to deal with the grief or whatever emotions their own way, within the boundaries set by the hosts.
posted by fatehunter at 10:33 PM on November 2, 2013


I am more disturbed by the media and social media aspects of this than by the apparent self involvement or failure to cue appropriate performances of occasional piety. As other people have pointed out, funerals are already occasions for various kinds of performance and self involvement. Some people do elaborate mourning, some do more obviously irreverent things, some execute deadpan stoicism (which is arguably even more involved with a kind of solipsistic self-monitoring). So there's all this stuff that already suffuses funerals with self and pretense and performance--they truly are a kind of play we put on (at least much of the time). So, fine. What's troubling though is the way the social media embedding context seems to eat away and supplant local contexts of this kind of thing and compress everything into a kind of repertoire of social media "moves." Maybe that's wrong and the apparent reduced dimensionality of social media behavior is just apparently so, but I don't think it's obviously not something to worry about.
posted by batfish at 10:37 PM on November 2, 2013


All my life, I've heard people talk about how they want their funerals to be a celebration, not a solemn occasion, blah, blah, blah. And I'm 36, so I can only imagine that holds doubly true for teenagers. We can't spend all our damn time telling them it's supposed to be a celebration and then smack them down when they take us at our word.


Here's the thing though, it doesn't matter one iota what he dead person wanted. They are dead, they don't care about squat. It's the other living people there that are hurt and missing the person that matter. If you taking selfies isn't noticed, fine. If it affects others at the funeral, fuck you and your self importance. "It's how they grieve", i call BS. If you can't put your ego away for the short time of it, don't go. That simple.

Also, these kids put these out on the internet themselves, and like the people that tweet racist and sexist garbage, shouldn't be surprised when people call them an it.
posted by usagizero at 10:57 PM on November 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


To me it's those who want to stick their nose in and take charge of how everyone else behaves at a funeral, and sometimes the details of the funeral itself to the point of dictating to the spouses and children of the deceased for the sake of "propriety", who are the ones who can't put their egos away.
posted by XMLicious at 11:21 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


To me it's those who want to stick their nose in and take charge of how everyone else behaves at a funeral, and sometimes the details of the funeral itself to the point of dictating to the spouses and children of the deceased for the sake of "propriety", who are the ones who can't put their egos away.

I agree, but at the same time, I don't think it's right to let kids make fools of themselves or act insensitive without at least warning them that they shouldn't. Not that taking a selfie is inherently gauche or callous, in my opinion, but it's plausible that it might be...and giving kids no guidance on how to act in a new/complicated/delicate situation isn't doing anyone a whole lot of favors.
posted by rue72 at 12:37 AM on November 3, 2013


It’s a way of saying, “I still exist.”

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to say that. It seems more like saying "I don't exist - no-one at home in this skull", or at any rate no-one above the mental level of a budgie with a mirror.

It might be different if the transgression were the point, but it doesn't look like that to me.

I suppose it's only a matter of time before this becomes an obligatory part of the ritual, with everyone who attended posting their pics to a special site. The priest will break off half way through the ritual to do his celebrated eyes-rolled-up face into his iPhone.

Because it's a celebration of life, not death. And it's what they would have wanted (and that will be true). And why should the passing of the shallow and fuckwitted not be attended by shallow fuckwittery?
posted by Segundus at 1:25 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where is Philip Larkin when you need him? I feel like this is just the kind of thing he would have hashed out in a poem... "The Funeral Selfies." Or "Memento Mori," or something.
posted by désoeuvrée at 4:14 AM on November 3, 2013


*gosh*

With all the mirrors covered what's a girl to do?

Head --> Desk. Repeat as necessary.
posted by redindiaink at 5:00 AM on November 3, 2013


Ugh, a completely self-absorbed, disgusting and inexcusable practice. I am shocked so many people here are excusing and even defending it. (I probably shouldn't be.) (Please don't regulate my emotional response to this FPP, TIA.)
posted by entropicamericana at 6:03 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You ever find yourself in a conversation with someone, you seem to be on the level, getting along ok, and then they make some off-the-cuff joke about, say, "Trailer Trash", and you do your best to politely dissuade them from saying such things, but they only laugh louder and continue, before you're forced to indignantly point out something like "My mother lives in a trailer, where I grew up." and maybe they play it off, maybe they apologize, hell, maybe they double down, or tell you how "oh no, not people like your mom who I'm SURE is lovely, but THOSE people who..." and regardless of how they 'explain' it, you can't unsee that deep-seated judgmental bullshit in them?

That's how I feel whenever people as young as me (32) bitch about "kids today".
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:15 AM on November 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


When my cousin died, I remember thinking, "This will make a great poem." It did. I felt like a cannibal.

Your Dog Dies

it gets run over by a van.
you find it at the side of the road
and bury it.
you feel bad about it.
you feel bad personally,
but you feel bad for your daughter
because it was her pet,
and she loved it so.
she used to croon to it
and let it sleep in her bed.
you write a poem about it.
you call it a poem for your daughter,
about the dog getting run over by a van
and how you looked after it,
took it out into the woods
and buried it deep, deep,
and that poem turns out so good
you're almost glad the little dog
was run over, or else you'd never
have written that good poem.

--Raymond Carver

(just an excerpt. The entire poem is here.)
posted by not that girl at 6:55 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


But are you saying we can make judgments about the former (the tumblr) but not the other (the original tweets)?

I think the idea here is that if you've just lost someone, we can cut you more slack than if you are merely bored on the internet.
posted by jcreigh at 7:20 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree, but at the same time, I don't think it's right to let kids make fools of themselves or act insensitive without at least warning them that they shouldn't.

I'm more troubled by adults who want to point and laugh or use the photos as click bait.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on November 3, 2013


I'm far less disturbed by this than the trend of people of all ages taking group selfies with their elderly relatives literally lying on their deathbeds. Issues of privacy, disrespect and just plain disregard give me the fucking willies. Not to mention the latest one where I knew very well that the picture-taker hadn't visited rich grandpa in *years* and was apparently doing a bit of "See I DO love you grandpa, and don't forget me in your will, right?" GROSS.

If one of my picture-taking younger relations puts their arms around me while I'm fairly nonsensical on my deathbed, I reserve the right to slap the shit out of them with my shit-stained fingers.
posted by RedEmma at 8:24 AM on November 3, 2013


P.S. Seeing these on FB makes me want to log off forever.
posted by RedEmma at 8:26 AM on November 3, 2013


If one of my picture-taking younger relations puts their arms around me while I'm fairly nonsensical on my deathbed, I reserve the right to slap the shit out of them with my shit-stained fingers.

Hopefully, someone would get a picture of that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:04 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am shocked so many people here are excusing and even defending it.

Eh. I don't think many people believe that funeral self-photography is always or necessarily a good thing—I don't, certainly—rather some of us believe that it isn't always or necessarily a bad thing. Post-mortem photography is almost as old as photography itself. It's possible that any one of these kids taking a funeral selfie is guilty of being insensitive or shallow or whatever, but they aren't uniquely shallow or insensitive just because they've shared a photo of themselves at a funeral.

Not to mention the latest one where I knew very well that the picture-taker hadn't visited rich grandpa in *years* and was apparently doing a bit of "See I DO love you grandpa, and don't forget me in your will, right?" GROSS.

But said behavior would be just as GROSS even without the accompanying picture, right? Pictures and social media just make it possible to broadcast bad behavior which, at one time, would have been performed in person or by phone. ("How dare he even visit Grandma now, when I know for a fact that he hasn't even seen her in years!")
posted by octobersurprise at 10:55 AM on November 3, 2013


The will is usually read after the funeral, right? So if grampa puts in his will that little duckface will get $X amount, unless he's posted a selfie from the deathbed, funeral, memorial or gravesite to social media in which case he gets bupkus, that would have legal force, wouldn't it?
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:22 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Depends on whether grandpa wants to be remembered as a dick or not.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:00 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brewster's Selfies
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on November 3, 2013


I'd settle for this.
posted by vapidave at 2:53 PM on November 3, 2013


My emotional reaction at funerals was so sharply different from what society seemed to tell me it was "supposed" to be that for a while I seriously wondered if I might be a psychopath.

People react to things in different ways. There seems little point in getting outraged by that when the reaction is pretty much harmless.

(Turns out I'm probably not a psychopath, by the way.)
posted by kyrademon at 3:44 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would think that grieving and displays of grieving are culturally learned to a large extent, which is why you see Shia Muslims beating their chests but its not desperately common in (for example) funerals in all those hackneyed NY cop TV shows. So teaching young people how to behave at funerals, especially as they likely don't go to them very often, would seem a good idea.
posted by biffa at 3:46 PM on November 3, 2013


I agree that it's a question worth asking. The problem is that far too many people skip that step and head right to scolding, bashing and mocking. That's no way to start a constructive dialogue.

So you're fine with the question, but when the answer to it is in aggregate "no, and this is what I think and why" then that answer is suddenly invalid and "bashing"?

I feel like you're solving from a conclusion back here in that you're trying to invalidate any negative answer that doesn't pass some bar of niceness simply because you don't agree with that answer to the question.

Dressing up the majority of expressions of "I don't like this" as being somehow shitty and Skipping the question Is a bit intellectually dishonest IMO.

We've already covered that the guy who runs the tumblr is an asshole. But now that we're having the actual round table on what people think about these photos in general as A Thing then a lot of the negative response get garbage canned?

Not sure how I feel about that.
posted by emptythought at 4:08 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I took a selfie of my reaction to this article.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:14 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


what's weird to me is that so many people frame this as selfies at funerals - from my count there are 20 entries, 7 of them are specifically not at the funeral (on the way there/on the way home/just a rip post), 4 that might or might not be depending on how you read it, and 9 that are at the funeral. so, on the entire internet this dude found 9 teens who posted funeral selfies, and those 9 even seem pretty mixed (a girl in a residential bathroom so maybe not the funeral despite the tags, a guy obviously trying to do remembrance in his own way, a guy who posted his friend's picture, etc). and yet here and everywhere people are yelling about their lawns and how the kids are all self obsessed.

this is like every other bullshit "teen trend." they used to get scores of ratings for the daytime tv and 5 o'clock news set and now gets millions of hits online. it always amazes me that as teens we seem pretty aware of how big of a reach these stories are but as we get older we're more likely to buy into them.
posted by nadawi at 4:41 PM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


jcreigh: "But are you saying we can make judgments about the former (the tumblr) but not the other (the original tweets)?"

I think the idea here is that if you've just lost someone, we can cut you more slack than if you are merely bored on the internet.


I would say also, that when we're dealing with as fraught a socio-cultural ritual as a funeral, which also varies by family custom and tradition, you need to think twice or three times before mocking how people behave. As I said above, I found the pictures my cousins posted comforting, and my family wasn't offended; indeed, they took a formal picture, which they have typically done at funerals because the whole family was gathered. Taking the pictures I'm fine with; disseminating the pictures through various channels I'm a little more ambivalent about, but facebook is at least a semi-closed system. (Some of my cousins shared it to just family, some to all their friends as well, which when you're in high school and miss three day for a family funeral seems very normal to me, and all the comments from their friends that I saw were like ":(" and "so sad, bro" and "condolences.")

But for other families from the same socio-cultural background as I am, this would obviously be completely outre. And in some cultures funerals might be very weepy explosions of grief where photographs would be totally taboo, and in others it might be a mourning exhibition where photographs are very important to record the quantity of mourners, and in others it might be a colorful celebration where photos are fine, and in others a celebration where photos are invasive.

Those teenagers might be obeying their socio-cultural and familial rules by posting photos, and they might not (given that they are teenagers and that is What Teenagers Do), but posting a tumblr mocking strangers' funeral behavior is definitely rude. You only get to mock people that YOU KNOW SHOULD KNOW BETTER according to their socio-cultural rules, which typically means people to whom you are related.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:59 PM on November 3, 2013


So you're fine with the question, but when the answer to it is in aggregate "no, and this is what I think and why" then that answer is suddenly invalid and "bashing"?

I wouldn't call the answer here at MeFi an aggregate no. Unless I'm tone deaf, the majority of responses here read as either sympathetic or neutral-contemplative. But let's look at the negative responses. The very first comment:

"... taking yet another meaningless, redundant and useless picture of themselves ..."

Calling what others do "meaningless, redundant, and useless" is bashing, and no reason was offered as to why a selfie is meaningless. It may be meaningless to you, but do try to explain why it's meaningless to the person taking it and the people he/she is sharing it with.

This thread has evolved, so let's take a look at more recent negative responses:

"a completely self-absorbed, disgusting and inexcusable practice" (but why?)

"why should the passing of the shallow and fuckwitted not be attended by shallow fuckwittery?" (attacking the people instead of the practice, which was how that entire comment began)

I feel like you're solving from a conclusion back here in that you're trying to invalidate any negative answer that doesn't pass some bar of niceness simply because you don't agree with that answer to the question.

I have a position, as do you. Whether one wants to answer in the positive or negative, it's not hard to do so respectfully, backed by reasons and suggestions. Just in case it wasn't clear: I don't like funeral selfies and wouldn't take one myself. "I don't like it" is not a reason why it's wrong. "It's disgusting" "shallow and insensitive"... there are the negative responses, not reasons for them.

Several posters here came forward and shared how taking a picture helped or might have helped them at a funeral. They described the context, what went down, how it was similar to and different from a selfie, their thought process, etc. Perhaps someone could recount how seeing another person take a picture ruined the funeral for them?
posted by fatehunter at 11:48 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, public grief can be tricky to navigate, and I'm not going to judge too harshly.

I have to draw the line at playing Candy Crush during the funeral, though.
posted by malocchio at 7:20 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


What App did you use to draw the line?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 AM on November 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Draw Something."

*hangs head*
posted by malocchio at 8:52 AM on November 4, 2013


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