A fiery crash in Northern California killed at least ten people yesterday after a FedEx truck drove over the highway divider and collided head-on with a charter bus carrying high-school students to a college visit. Both drivers, three chaperones, and five kids are dead, with dozens more injured, including 17-year-old Jonathan Gutierrez, who was asleep in the back row. “I just heard this loud boom,” he said. “We knew we were in major trouble.”
At the hospital, Gutierrez Snapchatted his friends a selfie, which has since spread on his public Twitter account, making him the second teenager this week to mark a tragedy in the most natural way they know how: on social media.
“sucks that all my stuff got burned up but i’m glad i’m okay,” Gutierrez tweeted after the deadly wreck. “first thing i grabbed was my phone.”
The instinct, while put crassly, is not his alone. Following the stabbing spree at a high school in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, student Nate Scimio, who’s been hailed as a hero, photographed his wound in a hospital mirror:
Like the Funeral Selfie before it, the Hospital Selfie exposes a massive generational divide about the etiquette of self-expression and oversharing, especially in the face of disaster. In a defense of taking a silly picture at a funeral, Jezebel’s Caitlin Doughty called the popular Tumblr cataloguing the images a “scathing cultural commentary [on] our tragic disengagement with the reality of death.”
The difference for Scimio and Gutierrez is that they were involved directly and managed to escape with a few relatively minor cuts and bruises. It may seem insensitive, but cheating death is also a cause for celebration and, like most other things these days, that tends to happen in public.