Today I went to Ground Zero to honor those who were personally affected by the terror attacks that took place 15 years ago. Upon arrival I realized that I was far from being the only person who had this idea. There were masses of people in the entire area. As I wove my way through the crowd, I scanned my eyes over the other visitors. I expected to see a majority of the people crying. Instead, most of the people had phones and cameras in front of their faces. Those who didn’t were busy posing for photos being taken by someone else.
(Now, I want to include a quick disclaimer; I do not agree with the culture of shaming people for using their technology. Typically I find that technology is made to be embraced. Skepticism of new tech is always laughed at when looked at retrospectively. There is no reason to be so repulsed by phones.)
Our culture needs to find a way to draw lines regarding photography around memorial sights. I personally find it disturbing to see people smiling and posing for pictures or selfies in front of these types of sights. For example, I went to the Charleston Church two weeks after an armed man killed 9 churchgoers during a religious service. I went to leave flowers and an encouraging note to the community. Directly in front of the church a group of girls were smiling and posing in a funny way. To reconnect this to my experience today, both instances filled me with similar feelings of disgust, confusion, and even anxiety.
Capturing photos is not a crime (in this scenario anyway), but it needs to be regulated. When people entered the Ground Zero memorial area, they immediately removed their hats. How did this ritual of respect become so widespread and commonplace in our culture? How can we standardize a code for determining what types of pictures are appropriate in certain places?
I do not claim to have the answers to these questions, but I feel it is a conversation that our society needs to start. Certainly I am not the only one offended by these practices, and I doubt I am the only one to ponder ways to change this.