What's wrong with this selfie? A selfie at at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz, below, Below left, children stand behind a barbed wire fence at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in southern Poland during World War II. (- AP photo / Twittter)
What's wrong with this selfie?
Lexile

Jacquie Whitt's trip to the Galapagos islands with a group of teenagers was memorable not just for the scenery and wildlife, but also for the way the kids preserved their memories. It was, said Whitt, a "selfie fest."

For this generation, "digital devices are now part of the interpretive experience," said Whitt, co-founder of Adios Adventure Travel.

Indeed, many parents love seeing their kids taking selfies and posting to social media when they travel. It shows "they are engaged and excited about where they are and what they are doing," said Susan Austin, a photographer and Iowa mom. "To some, it might be bragging, but I think it's more about a way today's teens connect with and feel part of a group."

But some adults think there's a downside to vacation selfies. They see them as narcissistic distractions that can detract from the travel experience. And they point to controversial examples like a smiling selfie from Auschwitz posted to Twitter as proof of the potential for poor judgment when young travelers use social media.

In addition, when traveling teens spend time taking selfies, "they're so busy documenting, I wonder whether they're actually experiencing it," said Peg Streep, who writes about psychology and millennials. "What should be an experience of learning and growth instead just says, 'Look at me.' It's a narcissistic moment that's really about getting likes."

Streep pointed to a study by Linda Henkel of Fairfield University in Connecticut that found museum visitors remember more about what they've seen if they don't take photos of the objects they're viewing. That suggests that any type of picture-taking can take "you out of the moment of the experience and shifts your attention."

Breanna Mitchell, the young woman who took the smiling Auschwitz selfie, received death threats and messages urging her to kill herself after the image went viral. In a video interview with TakePart Live, Mitchell said the selfie was misinterpreted. She'd studied World War II history with her father and they'd planned to visit historic sites together, but he died before they could make the trip.

Her selfie from the grounds of the concentration camp was her way of saying, "I finally made it here. I finally got where me and my daddy had always said we were going to go," she told TakePart Live. Looking back now on the selfie, she says, "I just went so wrong with that."

Still, most travel selfies are innocent and purely celebratory as well as being a way for teens to keep in touch with peers. Taylor Garcia, 17, who traveled to Texas this summer on a family road trip from Oklahoma, says selfies are a fun way to remember places like Disney, SeaWorld and the Caribbean, but she also takes them "because I want to show my friends what I'm doing."

But at least one tour company, Tauck, has a written policy discouraging digital devices. For Tauck's Bridges program, which specializes in multi-generational family trips, guests are asked to "turn off and stow their smart phones, tablets and other portable electronic devices during shared group time."

The bottom line, says Whitt: "Like all new emerging technology, the devices can be fun and wholesome, entertainment for all ages, or misused."

Critical thinking challenge: List three benefits of selfies.

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COMMENTS (9)
  • AllisonLogan1
    8/14/2014 - 08:02 p.m.

    This girl took a "shelfie" in Auschwitz concentration camp. She said she wanted to go with her dad because that was all they ever wanted. The thing was she didn't give that message out, so many people thought of it wrong. The interesting part that got engaged into this article was people are taking pictures of what they are doing like taking pictures instead of learning about it, It goes to show that people need to put down their devices and start to learn because you remember more if you don't constantly take pictures.

  • SamanthaB18
    10/27/2014 - 02:43 p.m.

    So what this article is saying that selfies are bad. Selfies aren't all that bad, but people sometimes misuse the privilege of having a phone or taking a selfie at Disney Worl or Sea World by braging about it. and sometimes that hurts other people :(

  • JKaitlyn-Sti
    12/19/2014 - 10:19 a.m.

    It is not a selfie. It is an old picture. Also back then they did not call them selfies. Its folded and ancient. It was taken by someone else.

  • jadie0122
    1/27/2015 - 01:58 p.m.

    So I have a Major question here? What is the point. there is no reason that people must take selfies. And the selfies aren't even an issue. the issue is there is starting to be a shift. Instead of art that was painted or drawn now we have selfies that are becoming to days modern art ad i just think that we need to keep old traditions alive.

  • pp2000boa
    2/02/2015 - 01:36 p.m.

    I think if you are going to visit a new place, you should actually immerse in it, not go there to show social media you went to somewhere just to get virtual approvals.

  • nicholas.jones07
    2/03/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    I believe that death threats are taking it too far. I believe that she was just happy she got where she and her dad wanted to go. I believe that the people who sent the death threats should be found and arrested. I am also a traveler. I believe that selfies are a great way to keep in touch with your friends and tell them where you are. I see nothing wrong with selfies.

  • Haley Patterson
    2/20/2015 - 02:02 p.m.

    I think it's sad that these people were treated this way. I personally would not want to take a selfie in this place but I guess you can kind of compare it like a before and after.

  • asjah-DiB
    2/23/2015 - 06:27 p.m.

    Selfies are good to show people interesting things like historical sights maybe even helps to make memories for future reference to look back on and also is fun to interact with others with.

  • paiges-DiB
    3/05/2015 - 01:53 p.m.

    The three benefits of selfies is you can take them by your self. You can take slefies anywhere of the day and time. Selfies are pretty cool.

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