Police in Sydney put their lives on the line to save others while idiots stand nearby taking selfies. (Joosep Martinson/Getty Images)
The Age, Australia — They say disasters bring out the best in people. Not in everyone, it seems.
Cheerful onlookers have been snapping mobile phone “selfies” at the perimeters of the Sydney siege as a still unknown number of hostages remain prisoners of a gunman. Several photos being shared were originally uploaded to Instagram. One man shared a photo with a fire truck in the background and the hashtag #hostagesituationselfie. The photo has since been deleted from his account.
In another happy snap, three men likely to be tourists pose in front of the police tape marking off the exclusion zone around the terrifying hostage situation in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place. One of the men gives the peace sign. … On Monday afternoon BuzzFeed reporter Mark Di Stefano took a photo of two blonde women leaning together to take a selfie “100 metres from the Lindt cafe.” The photo has since been shared more than 450 times on Twitter.
If you’re keeping score, the fall of civilization is right on schedule.
As I’m writing this, the hostage situation is over after 16 hours. Most of the hostages are safe, some are wounded and it’s unclear if any failed to make it out alive. What we do know is that none of the police who stormed the cafe are hurt, and the crazed lunatic gunman is dead. I don’t know enough about this stuff to know if this qualifies him for his 72 virgins in the afterlife. I certainly hope not. And if it does, I hope they’re the wrong kind of virgins. The kind who sit in their rooms all day eating Count Chocula and playing World of Warcraft in “HAN SHOT FIRST’ T-shirts.
What I can confirm is that the dopes who were outside the police lines posing for selfies like grinning monkeys while innocent people were fearing for their lives are only marginally better people than the nutjob who took the hostages in the first place. I mean, really? This is how far we’ve come as a species? There’s a real-life, gut-wrenching, life-or-death crisis going on, so that’s an excuse to pose a goofy picture like you’re a tourist pretending to swallow the Washington Monument or something?
Since the dawn of time, humans have wondered what they would say if they could deliver a message to the world. From Socrates to Confucius to Christ and beyond, great thinkers have pondered this question. And now in 2014 everyone does have that chance, and the message is this: We are horrible narcissists. Here’s a picture of my dinner. This is my cat taking a nap. Here’s me lucky enough to be outside a cafe where a deranged psycho is about to murder a dozen people. Peace! Duckface! #lol!
I mean, do you think for one second this would’ve gone on a generation ago? Or longer? If you could do back in time to Dealey Plaza, 1963, and handed out cell phones, do you think people would’ve posted selfies in front of JFK’s limo? Or in the ’30s they’d be instagramming the Nazis taking families out of Warsaw at gunpoint? The ‘net has given us such a sense of self importance that there people among us for whom no tragedy is so horrific it should get in the way of a really good social media post. I weep for mankind.
Here’s hoping everyone made it out alive, that they’re safe and somehow have the strength to handle the ordeal they’ve been through. And going forward, I propose a rule. The next time something like this happens and you’re caught taking selfies of it, you trade places with a hostage.