I’d like to think I’m pretty easy-going; I tend to not to get wound up over things that don’t really matter and try to remember to take things in stride. I’m usually the first person in the group to crack a joke to lighten the mood. I think that my years of taking the subway in rush hour have taught me a thing or two about patience and understanding. I’ve seen people do and say all kinds of things; it takes a lot to phase me.

But every so often, there comes an instance that I just can’t wrap my head around. That happened today when I came across the story of Breanna Mitchell, a teenager who decided it would be good idea to not only take a selfie at Auschwitz but to post it to Twitter:

Selfi at Auschwitz


The picture was actually posted last month but gained traction this weekend. Earlier today, when I was first reading about this story, Mitchell’s Twitter account was public. It’s since become protected and you have to send her an invitation to be able to see her tweets.

Understandably, people were upset with her picture:

Others took the opposing view, that the picture was not a big deal and people were over-reacting:

Mitchell explained that she was happy to have made it to Auschwitz because it was something she had studied with her dad. They were going to make the trip together, but he passed away before they were able to go.

For me, there are a couple of points that I keep going over. The first is Mitchell’s age. She is teenager and well, teenagers are known to not always think things through. Have we not become accustomed to selfies being taken anywhere? If President Obama can take one at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, I can see why Mitchell thought hers wouldn’t be a big deal, either.

On the other hand, I think that any teenager who studied World War II and the atrocities that happened at Auschwitz would have enough respect and understanding to know that a smiling selfie would not be appropriate. Maybe I am old and wound up, but my feelings are that a visit to Auschwitz would be one of sombre remembrance and not a photo-op.

The other point that sticks with me is Mitchell’s reaction to her photo going viral. She seemed to enjoy the fame she was getting:

Selfie at Auschwitz Screen shot


This, more than anything else she said, illustrated Mitchell’s immaturity about the situation. The fact that she’s taken her Twitter account private tells me the fame may be becoming a bit much. We all know the vitriol that Justine Sacco faced after her racist tweet went viral. I would imagine dealing with that much attention and hatred is difficult at any age. While I don’t agree with what she did, I hope that Mitchell’s selfie does not lead to any trouble for her beyond the anger on Twitter.

What do you think? Did the Internet overreact to Mitchell’s selfie? Or were people justified in getting as angry as they did?