Selfie Menace and Images on Social Media


The youth of today seems mesmerised by the ‘selfie’ trend.  They take selfies anywhere and everywhere, without paying heed to the sentimentality and solemnity associated with the occasion.  They do not even spare funerals.  Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt ‘selfie’ at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela went viral on the social media.  This image showed Thorning-Schmidt flanked by a smiling Barack Obama on one side and David Cameron squeezing in on the other.  All of them appeared to be ‘having fun’ when everyone was paying their respects to the departed soul of a world leader.  The reactions it would have created is well imaginable.

Here is a lesson for every netizen.  The moment an image is posted, it would travel at the light of speed all over the globe.  Any ‘awkward’ image provides an opportunity for the netizens to post their comments and most of these comments are going to be unpalatable.  When you post an image on the social media or the Internet, you are responsible and accountable for it.  It is for you to ensure that you do not bring in shame or touch the sensibilities of others with the image.  You
need to ensure that you do not hurt anyone’s career or personal life in any way.  Make sure that you have the permission to post someone’s photograph on the social media.  Copying and pasting someone else’s photo without prior permission, even with due credits, is a crime and violation of copyright. 

In today’s world, many legal cases have emerged due to such unauthorised posting of images.  Many have been charged as stalkers/ pedophiles.  This makes it all the more important to avoid taking pictures of children without permission of their parents, even at public events or social gatherings.  Some schools have banned photography in all their school functions, obviously to avoid misuse by unscrupulous elements.  Before tagging anyone on a photograph, it is your responsibility to obtain necessary permission from the person.  Many people today feel offended by such acts.



Posting the images of your children need special attention.  Over exposure of your children on the social media is not recommended.  Ensure that the images are not likely to be misused by anyone.  Similarly, posting images with high resolution may also invite trouble.  It would be prudent on your part to distort or add ‘noise’ to the image before posting it.  You can use any photo-editor or use many free online photo-editing site for it.

Avoid posting disturbing images of sick people, accident victims, etc.  This would leave a bad taste in the viewer’s mind.  Selecting necessary security settings to ensure that the persons intended are only seeing the image posted is always a good idea.  In case you are comfortable with the subject of your image, you can broadcast it to the whole world. 

One got to be extra-careful while posting of images during distress or calamities.  Some of your images may spread a feeling that you are not sensitive to the situation.  Similarly, images of funerals, cremation, obituaries, etc must be minimised.  You should pay special attention to the photos you post for such melancholic occasions and remove them immediately thereafter.   

Before uploading, posting or sharing a photograph, always pause and think what potential damage your act can cause.  Consider as to how your friend’s parents, siblings or teachers would react to the photo.  There have been many instances of people losing their jobs due to such inadvertent postings by their friends.  Many companies, prior to hiring, do peruse through the prospective employee’s social media sites to look for such aberrations.  Photos of many politicians in their youth have come haunting them later and have often caused considerable embarrassment. 

Many netizens tend to be bold on the Internet and on social networks and do things they might otherwise not do.  Many create fake profiles and some use tagging to attract the unsuspecting netizens on to their web page or website.  Obviously, these sites are real suspect in their content.

Geo-tagging of photos is a way of letting friends and families know where you are.  At the same time you are also at risk from burglars and stalkers.   Cyber criminals on the prowl can easily find out about your routine and also know when you are away from your home.  If you are out of station and your photo posted with a location far away will be boon for the burglars as they can very well predict your likely time of return.

If you post a photo you did not shoot, you could be violating someone’s copyright.  They reserve the right to take you to court and also sue you for damages.  The Facebook Terms of Service state, “You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law. We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement or our policies. If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.” 

If you post pictures from a concert, fair, flash mob or any public gathering, you can post those photos without specific permission of the people you captured on camera.  There is an expectation of privacy in places like a public washroom, swimming pool, courtroom or hospital.  In many schools, photography during the public functions are strictly forbidden.  In such places, obviously, you cannot shoot and will have to depend on the official photographer if any. 

It is the responsibility of every netizen to take responsibility for all the photos and images posted on the Internet.  Hence before posting “Always STOP and THINK” about the likely repercussions your innocent post may bring about.  

Over enthusiasm to shoot a selfie must be curbed, especially at public functions as you become more of an eyesore.  As per The Telegraph, more people have died in 2014 from selfies than shark attacks.  An engineering student from Tamil Nadu, India, fell to his death while taking a selfie.  Seven Indian youths drowned while taking selfies on Mangrul Lake, Nagpur, India as they had tipped over while posing for a selfie.

Canadian Report Card

repccompetition we faced back home always prompted us to cross-examine our children when they came home with a report card or a test result.  We always wanted to know as to who got the maximum marks, where does our child stand in the class,  etc.  At the end of Grade 11 of Nikhil in June 20114, when he came home with the report card, he declared “Do not ask me how others did as I have no clue as I did not ask anyone about it.”

It is indecent to ask someone their marks in Canada and the marks are confidential and is never announced in public.   The report cards are handed over to the students in a sealed envelope, obviously to ensure confidentiality.

The aim of a progress report in Canada is to enable the students to reach their potential, and to succeed. It is a real challenge for the school as every student is unique and they got to ensure each student gets adequate opportunities to achieve success according to his/her interests, abilities, and goals. The reporting is fair, transparent, and equitable for all students. It supports all students, including those with special education needs and all those learning the language of instruction (English or French). The curriculum is carefully planned to relate to the expectations, learning goals and cater to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students.

All aspects of learning are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the school year and at other appropriate points throughout the school year or course.   The reporting provides a descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement. It also develops students’ self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning.

The high school report card looks more like the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) in the army – it appears as if it leaves no aspects of learning skills and work habit of the child uncovered.  The aspects covered in the report are Responsibility, Organization, Independent Work, Collaboration, Initiative and Self-Regulation.  Strengths and Steps for Improvement are listed out for each subject separately.

My mind raced back to our Sainik School days and even our army course days, where no marks were ever kept confidential and were mostly put up on a notice board.  I always looked at the mark list on the notice board to make sure that I was not the last.  What an injustice, especially to those who did not fare well!

Once I perused his report card, I asked him a few questions to find out some details about the steps for improvement and we discussed in detail as to how he is going to prepare for his Grade 12.   After discussing the same, I casually asked our son as to how his friends did.  Our son theorised that students want to either show off their marks or feel a bit good when they have really done well or in case they haven’t, they are looking for someone who did worse.  He was not in either and hence did not find out how others did.  I realised that what he said was what I had been doing all throughout my life, either blow the trumpet, or look for someone who did worse to feel happy that you are not the worst.

Our son had done exceptionally well in French and the teacher rewarded him with a recommendation for a cultural and educational exchange program in France.  He went to  Paris (01 July 2014) and returned  on 31 Jul with a French Grade 11 Student, Guillaume Le Floch.  Nikhil stayed with the Le Floch family for a month in France.  Guillaume stayed with us and returned to France on 31 Aug.

While Nikhil was away for a month, I felt a vacuum, both in my mind and at home.  Our dog Maximus seemed pretty depressed and had been running all over the house looking for Nikhil.

We will all got to get used to such absence of the kids and this will prepare us to learn to live without them in times to come.