Selfies With Homeless People is a new Tumblr that documents obnoxious people taking selfies with homeless folk. This reminds me a lot of people taking selfies at funerals except this kind of behavior begets a whole different level of disregard for human lives. It’s bad enough that when most people (myself included) see a homeless person we assume the worst about them, that when they ask for money they’re really a con artist, or that we just walk past someone in real, desperate anguish as if they aren’t even there.
Now, instead of willful ignorance about them, people have sunken low enough to completely commodify their experience and treat them as if they were cardboard cutouts of celebrities to pose with, wax figures, inanimate objects, toys to be meddled with when you’re bored.
In probably the coldest winter this country has seen in a long time, I’d like to think we can humble ourselves and consider how difficult and dangerous it must be to live without shelter, food or water. What’s also disturbing is that many, if not most, homeless people are not convicts or drug addicts (which is just a person with a disease, people) but someone with a mental illness who has floated off the grid, probably by accident and for lack of a caretaker. In any scenario it doesn’t make a difference, it’s a person who happens to be less well off than you. Imagine someone taking a selfie of you after you had just been assaulted, while you’re crying on the subway because a family member has passed, while you’re just living your life and then they make a mockery of your entire existence because it’s funny to them. Is empathy really too much to ask when we’re constantly striving for others to understand ourselves? Let’s collectively stop acting like tools, please.