A selfie may be a quick, easy self-portrait, great for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but that doesn’t mean it is always appropriate. Taking selfies in the wrong place and at the wrong time can not only be poor taste, but may also be insulting, disrespectful, incriminating, or even illegal.
Don’t Take These Selfies!
- In the Bathroom: Using a mirror is one of the most popular ways to take a selfie and know just how you will look, but the background can be less than appealing. It can be a violation of privacy laws to use cameras of any kind in a public bathroom, so if you must use a mirror, opt for one at home instead.
- In Jail: It’s bewildering why anyone would want to preserve the memories of a night in jail, and these selfies are far from cute – they can be incriminating. If posted to social media, a boss, scholarship committee, college admissions officer, or other official may see them, which could ruin your chances of making a good impression.
- At a Crime Scene: Crime scenes, including fires, accidents, and break-ins, may be protected locations and taking any type of photo there may be illegal (unless you are the victim and are taking the photos for insurance purposes, and in that case, why are you taking a selfie to show your insurance agent?). If you are unconnected to the event, photographing it is disrespectful to those who are suffering from the crime.
- At the Hospital: No one looks their best in a hospital bed, and if you are visiting a friend or relative in the hospital, your actions should be focused on helping them feel more comfortable rather than snapping a quick pic of yourself. Hospital charts, equipment, and any patient information or identifying characteristics may also be confidential, and taking photos is not advisable.
- At a Funeral: A funeral or memorial service is a solemn occasion, not one for self-glamorizing selfies. Ideally, if it is your loved one’s service, you should have far better photos to remember them by, and taking any photos of remains is highly disrespectful not only to the deceased, but to their surviving friends and relatives. Similarly, never take a selfie in any related location, such as a cemetery or morgue. In fact, these types of photos – such as the high school student who took a selfie at a morgue while on a college tour – can lead to dire consequences not just for you, but for others who may be unfairly scrutinized because of your careless actions.
- While Driving: There is no doubt that using cell phones or texting while driving is dangerous, but taking selfies – when you want to pose and be looking at the camera rather than the road – is even worse. Stay safe behind the wheel and keep the camera out of sight until you’re in a more picturesque location.
- At a Security Checkpoint: Photography of any kind is generally prohibited at high security checkpoints, such as in the airport or when entering any secure location. If you feel the need to whip out the camera to capture the moment, wait until you’re in an appropriate location, otherwise you may be asked to leave, have your camera or phone confiscated, or be subject to more rigorous searching than you’d wanted.
- On a Movie Set: Stumbling across a movie set is exciting, but don’t bet on immortalizing yourself with a Hollywood-style selfie. Movie sets are subject to copyright laws and anyone photographing them without permission may be prosecuted. If your favorite star happens to be nearby, you can ask them to join you for a selfie, but don’t take the photo without permission.
- At a Wedding: Unless you are the bride or groom, a wedding is not about you and a selfie is not appropriate. Instead, take a nice few snapshots of the happy couple, and if you are close friends, take a selfie with them, but not just of yourself. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for selfies on your own wedding day, and the same rules apply to other formal religious occasions, such as christenings, baptisms, quinceaneras, or confirmations.
- Anywhere Without Permission: Copyright and photography laws apply to more things than you’d imagine, including performances, architecture, private land, and even people, if you don’t have their permission to take the photograph. Before you whip off a self snap, make sure you have permission so it can’t come back and bring you more (negative!) attention than you’d hoped for.
Want to take a good selfie in an appropriate place? Check out these tips for the best selfies !