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Selfies Versus Selves!

The British and American Television Channels recently telecast a five-episode show, titled ‘Chernobyl’, which was based on the Chernobyl Disaster, or the nuclear accident that had taken place on April 26, 1986 at the No 4 Nuclear Reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near the Northern Ukrainian City of Pripyat. It is one of only two Nuclear Energy disasters rated as INES 7, the maximum severity classification. The disaster claimed nearly 4,000 lives and Pripyat became a deserted city, mainly because of the radiation. The ionising radiation levels in the worst-hit areas of the Reactor Building had been estimated to be 5.6 ‘Roentgens‘ per second (R/s), equivalent to more than 20,000 Roentgens per Hour. A lethal dose is around 500 Roentgens (in modern radiation units) over five hours. It is, hence, the unprotected workers received fatal doses in less than a minute in some areas. However, the Government of Ukraine opened the city for tourists in 2011 after Experts ruled that the level of Radioactivity in Pripyat became within tolerable limits

The Series.jpg
The TV Series

As the TV show became popular, a huge number of tourists from different parts of the globe have started pouring in Pripyat. They click selfies during their visit to the disaster site and post those images on Instagram and also on other Social Networking Sites! Their activities have hurt the writer of the television mini-series, Craig Mazin, who recently tweeted: “It’s wonderful that #ChernobylHBO has inspired a wave of tourism to the Zone of Exclusion. But yes, I’ve seen the photos going around. If you visit, please remember that a terrible tragedy occurred there. Comport yourselves with respect for all who suffered and sacrificed.

Craig Mazin.jpg
Craig Mazin

Mazin’s appeal is a timely one… unfortunately, a majority of the members of the human society would still seemingly need an excuse to entertain themselves! It is quite natural that they will engage themselves with the popular products, in an attempt to showcase their forms of enjoyment…


Such incidents take place in different parts of the world on a regular basis! A Jewish elderly man, along with his grandchildren, had visited several Concentration Camps in Poland and Germany in 2010, and danced with disco music there! He had even posted his activities on YouTube! Interestingly, the old man was taken to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp during the Second World War. Somehow, he had managed to survive. Many years later, he defended his acts, saying that his dance should be considered as a symbol of victory of Humanity over the Fascism! Similarly, the tourists – who visit Chernobyl – can claim that they celebrate the victory of life at the disaster site because they advertise the greatness of life at the place of destruction!

Auschwitz Concentration Camp.jpg
Auschwitz Concentration Camp

In reality, the selfie-mania or the camp-dance insult the gravity and significance of a place! Such acts also tend to oversimplify tragic historical events. The Chernobyl Disaster was a fine example of our ‘worthlessness’ and ‘casual attitude’ towards life, while the Nazi concentration camps were the consequences of long-term and well-planned violence of a nation or persons belonging to a particular Faith mostly against another Faith in different nations. Both the incidents insult gravely the human civilisation, and we have a duty to tender appropriate apologies to History for those incidents. If some people showcase their joy in places, like Chernobyl and Auschwitz (which experienced tragedy), in the pretext of ‘Freedom of Speech and Action’, then the Global Community should condemn such Acts.


Memories of accidents, disasters or mass-murders tend to survive forever, as those do not depend on the perpetrators who would trigger such incidents because of their casual attitude or to fulfil their vested interests! One should learn how to effectively learn lessons from history and also how to respect history. Even if someone forgets the broader context and environment while visiting such places, and enjoys her/his trip to a place of tragedy, the person should not make her/his images public! Such an act not only lowers the person’s self-respect, but also disrespects historical places. Humanity never forgives these people…

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