Reviews & Profiles

Selfie at a funeral?

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By Joseph Lagen

Posted  Wednesday, December 18  2013 at  13:30

In Summary

The picture of three world leaders taking a selfie has made rounds across the globe. Was it an insensitive and inappropriate thing to do, or were these just friends who seized a moment to get a picture? Our writers give their views.


It was the most selfish thing to do

Just last week, images shocked the world with a perspective to Mandela’s memorial service that one would have never seen coming. Away from the podium but still in the plush VIP lounge, pictures were taken of President Obama having what you may call a “good time” in the company of his Danish counterpart, Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British premier, David Cameron; with Michelle (his wife) clearly unamused by the developments.

What started out as a “selfie” of the Danish flanked by two of the most influential leaders on the planet (arguably) lingered into a flirty (it appeared so) conversation, excluding Premier Cameron. Thank heavens the one behind the lens, one Roberto Schmidt, admitted, that the capturing of Michelle’s stern face was totally circumstantial, or was it?

With the accuser already acquitting the accused, I am in no position to place Obama back into the dock for flirting. However, I can point viable reasons why he/ they should condemn that selfie, starting with…It is a memorial service for God’s sakes.

Actions do speak
I am not morality’s chief whip but I sure would expect more of Mr Obama than his mind blowing (I have to admit) speeches at the icon’s funeral. Because, when all is said and done, it is what it is, a speech. Need I have to recite the adage, “Actions speaks louder words?”

Speaking of words, the first Black American president has, through his words, garnered a vast following, especially in the young circles. The age of virtual social networking has made him “virally” (intended) famous. With a 40 million following on Twitter alone, his actions, especially those posted or tweeted, are bound to impact heavily those of others. And I am not pulling your leg.
These pictures found their way to another social site page, “Tumblr” dedicated for “Selfies At Funerals” and titled the same, with whoever posted it writing, “(Even) Obama Has taken (a funeral) selfie, so our work here is done.”

Ripple effect
Obama, being a Harvard law honours graduate must have the brains to realise that his actions, especially in the public eye, act as an endorsement to such related actions, including such said selfies at funerals, burials and all other events sombre.

I can only imagine a child being rebuked by his parent for snapping away at their grin on their granny’s funeral only to retort, “Go tell Obama…” Aside moral reasoning, normal logic provides a couple of other places the actions of these three leaders would have read better.

It is not like it was the first time for them to rub shoulders. It is not like the first time, each of their security detail consented to them siting together. A selfie of the same kind at a UN gathering would be read as oiling ties between the countries. If only they waited for the luncheon that came after, the worst they would have would the comic puns of how food unites different col… (I said nothing)
When Schmidt (the photographer) cleared the air stating that Michelle’s stern look was just that, the world must have missed out on one tiny detail.

That her observation, like theirs was also an observation. Who knows if that “we need to talk” face did not extend to the presidential bedroom? President or not, every married man is familiar with the creed “Happy wife; happy life.” And we sure do not want a sad husband holding the launch codes to earth deleting missiles, do we?

I will end my argument with a quote from 20th Century scientist Albert Einstein. He foreboded, “I fear (for) the day technology will surpass our human interaction.” Seeing this, I’m afraid that day…has come.