Selfies from the 9/11 Memorial

After visiting Auschwitz in June, I argued that photographing and sharing pictures of places where atrocity has happened—specifically, Auschwitz and Birkenau—was essential for recognizing and acknowledging that history.

We should keep posting—and sharing—photographs of places where horror has happened until these places inevitably disintegrate, even if the photo of such a place does not fit so neatly into a social network, where the crass language of the sharing community—“likes,” “hearts,” “selfie,” “re-gram” etc., etc., can denigrate the austerity of an image. If we use social media for only the happy or banal events in life—weddings, brunches, signs with terrible grammar—well, why bother?

The 9/11 memorial makes me reconsider that thesis, if only because it feels built to be photographed. It’s glitzy, tactile, antiseptic and commercial all at once.