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Don't Take Criminal Selfies
By: Jennifer Graber
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There is no doubt about it — we live in a digital world. And with that comes an inescapable need to document seemingly every aspect of our lives. After all, not a day, or an hour, really, goes by without a selfie appearing on one of our social media feeds. The proliferation of the selfie is quite interesting, and mind boggling. However, not everything needs to be documented. Not everything requires a selfie. That is just common sense. Or is it?
A teen in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a selfie sent through Snapchat. Before you make any assumptions regarding privacy or intrusion — just wait, this teen deserves to be in jail. The teen’s selfie on Snapchat was of a murder victim who received a fatal gunshot wound to the face. The selfie shows the suspect facing the camera with the victim clearly visible in the background.
The photo was sent to a friend of the teen. The teen in question also send text messages to his friend that said “told you I cleaned up the shells” and “Ryan was not the last one.” The friend took a screenshot of the photo before it disappeared off the Snapchat app, and then showed it to his mother. The mother, thankfully, turned the photo in to the police. The police were able to use this criminal selfie to connect the teen to the murder victim, who had been discovered earlier in the week, and make an arrest. The teen is awaiting a preliminary hearing for charges regarding homicide and firearms.
Social media allows us to do so many wonderful things. We are able to connect to one another and interact. And then there is this. This is an absolutely horrible situation. First and foremost, it was an utterly idiotic move to take the life of another human being. The discussion on that aspect could go on for quite some time, especially if you get into psychological issues and so forth.
Second, it was just as stupid to document criminal activity with a social media selfie. Why would you do that? What goes on in your mind that drives you to do such a thing? And what does that say about society that it was acceptable in the teen’s mind to post such an image? One individual in the psychology and social media field says that the act of posting the selfie speaks more to the criminal tendency to show off.
The teen might have felt the need to be validated, and social media was one medium in which to do so. This theory makes sense. However, I do not believe that is the complete story. The teen obviously has some deep-rooted psychological issues. But what made him so comfortable to post such a horrendous picture? Why exactly was it okay? Perhaps we need to better educate impressionable children, teens, and adults about the pitfalls of social media. Nothing is truly, 100% private. It does not make you invincible. It is not a video game. It is real life. The only positive thing to come out of this situation was that the teen’s selfie led to his capture and arrest. This is one of the worst, and saddest, uses of social media.

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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