Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – I thought when I got this that this was one of those it looks like a story but it’s actually an ad. You know what I’m talking about? They try to get you to click them by making them look like stories when they’re advertisements. The first time I saw it, I ignored it. Second time I saw it, I was actually at TownHall, because I had actually clicked on one of the other stories yesterday. I saw it was an actual story and went: Hmm, funeral selfies, really? Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: You saw the funeral selfie story?
AG: Yeah. I think I saw a picture of some girl taking it and the headline was “Funeral Selfies.” I was like: There’s nothing within this story that interests me in the least bit. I will avoid reading what it is and let my imagine run wild with what actually is taking place.
Mike: You don’t have to wonder anymore because I have it. I saw it and thought it was a gag. I get the daily story blast from TownHall.com every day, kind of like some of you, not nearly enough, get the daily blast from the Daily Republican newsletter. I get the daily TownHall.com newsletter. If you want to get my Daily Republican newsletter, just go to MikeChurch.com and put your email in the box. You’ll get it every day, including my republican thought of the day. I thought when I got this that this was one of those it looks like a story but it’s actually an ad. You know what I’m talking about? They try to get you to click them by making them look like stories when they’re advertisements. The first time I saw it, I ignored it. Second time I saw it, I was actually at TownHall, because I had actually clicked on one of the other stories yesterday. I saw it was an actual story and went: Hmm, funeral selfies, really?
For those of you that are uninitiated and don’t know what a selfie is, some people are making the conclusion that selfies have only been around since — what is that site you were talking about back during the Boston Marathon bombing when people were putting all the pictures on it? I can’t remember the name. I don’t use it.
Mike: There was another one other than Reddit. Is that the photo site?
AG: It’s not just a photo site. It’s more like a message board site.
Mike: There was one that just had a lot of pictures on it. We’ll go with Reddit. Some people think that these selfies have only been around since you’ve had Facebook — what an idle misspense of time most of that is — or Twitter or Reddit as you just pointed out. That’s not the case. I can recall going to events with friends back in the camera days when instead of bringing our expensive cameras, we brought those disposable or single-use Kodak cameras you used to be able to buy with 12, 24, or 36 exposures in them. I can remember taking at, for example, Saints away games, that some friends of mine and I used to travel to, what would be the modern-day equivalent of selfies. That was with an actual handheld, disposal camera. The selfie has been around for quite a while. What a selfie is is how you try to take a picture of yourself. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a selfie. It’s the way the selfie is now being used that Ms. Nicole Bailey has an issue with.
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“Funeral selfies,” pictures teens take of themselves at the funerals of loved ones and then share online [Mike: Who on earth would take a — you go to a funeral and you take a selfie? Are you smiling or do you take a selfie to show that you’re sad? I don’t know. I didn’t see any of the pictures.] have recently become the subject of intense controversy. Yet it is no surprise that the next generation has turned to social media friends-of-friends networks for comfort in the absence of strong, traditional support networks. [Mike: By the way, if American productivity is down, I think I know why. I think it’s safe to say that productivity, if you’re looking for lost productivity, you can find it on social media.] Some have been quick to resign humanity to its new funeral selfie fate. Regardless of whether you agree that the funeral selfie is here to stay, it is important to understand how our society got to this point in the first place.
Mike: I have to be very careful about this, because if I don’t denote Nicole Bailey as the author of what it is I’m saying and put her in quotation marks, Rachel Maddow may accuse me of plagiarism. Will you be my plagiarism alert system?
AG: I’ll be on the lookout, yeah.
Mike: You can hit a foghorn buzzer or play Barbra Streisand or something like that if I screw up and don’t give credit. I don’t want the hammer of Rachel Maddow coming down on me and accusing me of plagiarism when I’m not actually plagiarizing. The way I understand plagiarism would be to use and abuse someone else’s work and try and pass it off as your own, which Senator Rand Paul did not do, by the bye.
As someone who lost her father as a teen, I know from personal experience that it is near impossible to endure such a loss at a young age without the support of others. Traditionally, extended families, neighborhoods, churches or religious organizations, and even tight-knit school and work communities would come together to lend the support of a group in solidarity to its grieving individuals. Group support is especially crucial for young adults, who benefit most from the help of those who are more mature and have experienced loss.
When our communities decline, it is this demographic – the ones taking funeral selfies – who suffer the most. As they struggle to cope with the loss of a loved one, the closest thing to a support network they can think of is their social media community.
Mike: Let me tell you from experience, it’s not much of a community at all. It’s a place where acquaintances, for the most part, can basically, in an almost anonymous fashion, share experiences. I’ll give you an example. Yesterday Mrs. Church was telling me that the owner of a restaurant near our house was Facebooking photographs of him in the stands at the Saints-Jets game. My first thought was: How do you know the owner? I don’t even know the owner of that restaurant. Number two, what are you doing on his Facebook page? I suppose she went there because she liked the restaurant’s Facebook page. We’re all in a contest for likes these days, folks. You could always be like Mr. Gruss. Let me ask you, here we are on November 4, 2013. Are you still abstaining from Facebook?
AG: I’m still not on it, no. I would not know the likes or dislikes or all that stuff to do with it.
Mike: Can I just say that you should probably stay in that position? Keep that posture.
AG: What was the story last week that people are seeing it becoming less and less used in terms of time spent on Facebook and how that was going to play into Twitter’s IPO, which I think is this week.
Mike: I was listening to Christine Romans today droning on endlessly about the wonders of Facebook and its stock, and LinkedIn and its stock, and now Twitter and its stock. From someone that’s actually done some Facebook advertising and is not very, just my personal experience, not very pleased with the results because I don’t think people that are consuming social media are looking for bargains while they’re consuming. I still think you either get your bargains because you hear word of mouth or you hear them on a radio or television advertisement. Maybe I’m just being a little jaundiced but I did try it. I even spent some substantial cash on Google, and you cannot convince me that Google was a pertinent investment.
I just wonder how long these entities that basically contribute to non-productivity and then sell advertising access to the nonproductive, for the most part when they are on social media, how long this can last. When she was saying today that LinkedIn’s stock was up 300 percent this year, why? Let me put this in perspective. How many of you out there are members of or have ever been members of a group like a BNI group, Business Networking Initiative, or whatever the I stands for. My brother is probably one of the foremost members of a BNI group. He used BNI to basically build the mortgage business he has today. I don’t ever recall, maybe I missed it, but I don’t recall that BNI ever launched an IPO, or that anyone thought it was a good idea to have a BNI IPO. Apparently we live in a new age.
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When our communities decline, it is this demographic – the ones taking funeral selfies – who suffer the most. As they struggle to cope with the loss of a loved one, the closest thing to a support network they can think of is their social media community. Funeral selfies are just one symptom of a wider problem that includes general sympathy-seeking online.
Mike: I think that’s probably correct. There are a lot of sympathy-seekers out there. It’s probably difficult to avoid the temptation to go: Do I really suck or not? Maybe you can help me out with that. I’d like to have a poll on my page. How much did we stink? How much do I stink today? How loved am I today or am I not loved today?
Social media is not inherently evil – in fact, it can prove to be a useful tool for engaging the grieving. The problem begins when online communities replace more substantial, deeper ones. In the end, traditional communities not only provide more meaningful and long-lasting support. They also allow these struggling teens to honor the memory of the deceased in a way that is respectful and upholds the values that make those communities so strong. Families, churches, and schools must make clear the healing power of respecting the privacy of the deceased and maintaining the sanctity of grief. We as a society have a duty to show the next generation how much love is waiting right in front of them – to lift them up in their time of struggle – if only they would put down their iPhones and see.
Mike: I’m not sure what the final verdict on all this social media is going to be, the effect it’s going to have on, for example, creative writing, which there is, I believe, a dearth of. I think, just using my own children as an example, as I challenge them to hone their writing skills, I tell my daughters: If you’re have trouble writing your essays in lit and if your instructor is saying you’re not writing at a level you should be, my advice is to go back and get a book and study grammar. Here’s even better advice: Find someone whose writing style you like or you think is persuasive or provocative or intriguing, whatever adjective you wish to use, and read them. See how they structure sentences. There’s an old adage out there among those that used to write, I’m talking about writing with a pen. To learn to be a good writer, one of the things you can do is to emulate good writers. For the little bit that I write, that’s what I try to do, which is why I spend so much time reading 18th and 19th century texts, because they were so much smarter than we are, and I mean that sincerely.
The bottom line is this: if you spend one minute scrolling through the entries on this website and aren’t horrified and saddened, then you are part of the problem.
Mike: AG, I should send you the link so you can go to the photographs of all the teenagers taking funeral selfies. Then you can really be despondent.
AG: I saw the picture with one of the girls and I just couldn’t. I was like: What are we doing here? This is a news story, A, and this is actually taking place, B. What is going on?
Mike: Good question.
End Mike Church Show Transcript