It was the funeral selfie
heard seen around the world.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and President Obama took a selfie during Nelson Mandela’s (funeral) memorial service. To the right, Mrs. Obama does not look impressed. Social media quickly reacted in disgust, support, shock, and confusion:
The Pope has a Twitter & the President took a selfie at a funeral. Would anyone 55+ even understand this sentence? We’re evolving strangely.
— Tina Wargo (@tinabeenawargz) December 11, 2013
Fox news spends more time on President selfie, and shaking Castro’s hand, than on covering Mandala’s funeral. #foxdorks
— michael hamilton (@2jisland) December 11, 2013
I wonder if LBJ would’ve taken a selfie at Kennedy’s funeral? What do you think Obama?
— Sgt. Rock’s Scowl (@CaterW) December 11, 2013
A defense of the funeral selfie: http://t.co/jh751WAfY5
— WNYC (@WNYC) October 30, 2013
— Co.Create (@FastCoCreate) December 3, 2013
While not a true selfie, President Bush looked happy with Bono
To be fair, this was a memorial service and not a funeral service. The “selfie” as it is called, is really an individualist expression that is either loved or hated. As a pastor, I often lead and experience celebratory memorial services. Instead of the dull, dreaded, and sad service, many families want a memorial service to be fun, festive, and a celebration of life.
Taking a selfie at such a large gathering of Mandela’s memorial service is entering into new territory. Certainly questions of when to take a selfie are important. If someone would take a selfie during someone’s speech would be off putting. However, marking an occasion with friends, family, and co-workers with smiles in a picture at a memorial service isn’t a big deal. But, when a president does it, it is.
So, is it wrong to take a selfie at a funeral?