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How Do You Feel About Tragedy Selfies?

I’ve seen them called a couple of different names, such as tragedy selfies or disaster selfies. Lately I’ve noticed a lot of articles about such selfies, like:

  1. Artist Shames Tourists Taking Inappropriate Selfies At The Holocaust Memorial Site In Berlin (NSFW)
  2. Yolocaust or Cheeky Exploit?
  3. ‘Dark tourism’ and selfies: What the rise in tragedy selfies says about us

The last one is about the Grenfell Tower fire disaster. Apparently it’s become London’s hottest new tourist attraction. And what do tourists do? Take photos, especially selfies.

The trouble is, this is a fresh tragedy. Locals are still mourning it. They are not happy people are taking selfies at the tower and have posted signs imploring people to be respectful.

Taped to a wall outside Grenfell Tower is a polite sign asking visitors to “please be aware what you see is the site of our great loss.”

“Please act with respect if you need to take a photograph … please hold our loss in your mind. (Please no selfies!),” it states.

Selfie Etiquette

No matter what you call them, the underlying feeling towards disaster selfies and tragedy selfies seems to be the same: tacky and disrespectful.

I was curious if people were really as appalled and outspoken about this on Twitter, as one article suggested.

Yep. A quick search of “Grenfell selfies” produced a lot of results. Here are some of the top ones:

Tragedy Tourism Is Here to Stay

Now to be fare, dark tourism, or tragedy tourism, isn’t new. It’s been around for decades. (However, the term “dark tourism” is a modern invention, one in part coined by Professor Lennon, a lecturer in dark tourism from Glasgow Caledonian University London, according to The Telegraph’s article, Dark tourism: why are we attracted to tragedy and death?)

So it seems it’s not going anywhere. An author for National Geographic wondered Is ‘Dark Tourism’ OK?

He determined, yes, it is…depending upon the tourist’s intention.

The first thing we should ask ourselves: Are we traveling to a place to heighten our understanding, or simply to show off or indulge some morbid curiosity?

Your answer to that will likely determine your attitude towards tragedy selfies.


If you absolutely feel compelled to take a selfie at a tragedy site, don’t be surprised if you get dirty looks and piss people off.

Also, beware. It might come back to bite you.

What Do You Think?

How do you feel about tragedy selfies? Weigh in in the comments below, or reply to our discussion in the Forums: Tragedy Selfies: To Take Them or Not?

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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