Social media are regularly used for circulating news and sharing whatever you're doing with your friends in the form of status updates, pictures, or videos. This can be really fun and addictive, and although spending a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram might distract you from living in the moment, it usually won't actually hurt anybody.
But what if you find yourself in a dangerous situation that requires rapid action, such as a natural disaster, a medical emergency, or a crime in progress? The logical thing to do in this case is to either run to safety if you can't help or hurry to the victims' aid if you can, and yet some people are so hooked on social media that their first impulse is to start posting about it there before they even think about responding to the emergency. Sure, whatever's happening is newsworthy, but it'll be too late to do anything about it if you waste precious seconds fiddling with your screen.
This is Truth in Television due to its roots in human psychology — when you see an outright incredible scene, it's so hard to believe it's actually happening that your first reaction will be to actually prove it's real by putting it on the Web. It can also be an aspect of Bystander Syndrome where everybody assumes that someone else is already taking care of it and that there's nothing for them to do but watch. Keep in mind that social media can also be used legitimately for sharing information during a disaster when other means aren't available, or more specifically submitted to the proper authorities as evidence of a crime being committed; this trope is specifically about using it in a way that's inappropriate for the situation.
Compare with the Intrepid Reporter, a professional journalist who ought to know the risks they're taking by being there; the Apocalyptic Log, which is left by someone in case they don't survive to tell the tale, instead of by some Twitter addict who just doesn't realize how much danger they're in; and Endangering News Broadcast, which is usually more dangerous to the subject than to the filmer. Compare also Related to New Media Are Evil and Everything Is Online. Sub-trope of Skewed Priorities and Social Media Is Bad. This is a common trait of a Selfie Fiend.
- A downplayed version occurs in a commercial for Eggo waffles. A family is eagerly awaiting for an Eggo to pop up out of the toaster and when it does, they immediately whip out their phones and begin tweeting "Leggo my Eggo". As they're doing so, the youngest daughter just walks up and grabs the Eggo.
- In Code Geass, Lelouch's second Establishing Character Moment after his chess game is him rushing to help a truck that just had an accident, while everyone around him is merely taking pics and wondering why no one has called an ambulance yet. Note that this came out before the advent of social media, but the attitude is still there, with people using their phones to take pictures rather than calling emergency services with them.
- In the 2018 version of GeGeGe no Kitarō, a young man decides to run around in Shibuya traffic and disturb the locals so he can get views on Youtube for it. He turns into a red-leaved tree not long after. Why was he transformed? His previous video showed him tearing off a talisman and breaking the rock it was attached to in the same careless style, unwittingly releasing the youkai inside. And then bystanders take picture of the aforementioned tree, in which some of who took pictures of the tree turn into the tree, causing Shibuya to turn into a red forest.
- Yuri!!! on Ice tends to play this for laughs:
- A case of this happens in Episode 2. When Yurio arrives in Japan, he mentions knowing he can't post pictures or else his coach will find out where he is, but as soon as he finds a shirt he really likes (with a tiger on it), he takes a selfie with it and posts it anyway. His coach is not amused in the slightest.
- Phichit seems to have a habit of taking embarrassing pictures of people and posting them online without their consent since, in his words, he just can't help himself. He does it twice in Episode 6, where he takes a picture of his coach Celestino when he's drunkenly passed out and when he uploads a racy picture of a drunk and naked Victor hugging Yuri.
- In the G.I. Joe (IDW) series, the Joes were assigned an online journalist codenamed Hashtag whose job was to improve the Joes' public image by posting social media updates. By following her updates, COBRA was able to track the Joe team and ambush them.
- In the 2013 The Green Team series from DC Comics, the leader type is initially puzzled as to how the assassin has tracked them down until it's learned that the newcomer has been posting his location to a Facebook equivalent.
- Kid Loki from Journey into Mystery knows he needs to escape through a portal fast after he's summoned Surtur - but he can't resist snapping a picture of the rampaging, now freed fire giant first. (Probably for the skeptical followers of his Instagram, which we've seen earlier in the series.)
- The Transformers: Shattered Glass incarnation of Ravage is a horrible social media addict who not only has a tendency to give up his location while in hiding due to posting it on his social media accounts, he also likes taking selfies with someone he's sneaking up on in the background and sending them the picture.
- Ultimate Marvel
- Spider-Men II: A giant piece of a robot has fallen in the schoolyard. Some pages later, Miles is leaving to investigate, the police are making crowd control... and a pair of students take a selfie in front of it.
- Ultimate X-Men: In the first issue of "New Mutants", Hank, having learned jack-squat, goes on an internet chat room to tell everyone about the Mutant with angel wings living at the mansion. Cut to two different mobs on the front lawn, one pro-Mutant, one anti-Mutant and both wanting to see the angel. Hank refuses to see how this is his fault.
- A variant: a common complaint about Found Footage Films, especially in the horror genre, is that the protagonists always seem to clutch their cameras for dear life, trying to film all of the horror going on even when logic suggests that they drop the camera and just run.
- The Blair Witch Project, of all films, actually deconstructed this one. The reason Heather's continuing to film everything, long after it's become clear that she and her friends are lost, is because it's her way of coping with that fact. The screen on the camera makes the predicament she's in feel less real.
- Cannibal Holocaust, a candidate for the first found-footage film ever made, deconstructed this in a different manner. Here, the protagonists are a bunch of murderous scumbags who film their atrocities out of a sick sense of sadism, the fact that they have cameras at all implied to be a major driving force behind their crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
- In [REC] 3: Génesis, when Atun tries to keep filming even after a Zombie Apocalypse has broken out, Koldo simply grabs his camera and smashes it. The rest of the film is shot as a conventional horror movie, unlike the opening (and the first two films).
- In the 2013 version of Carrie, during the title character's telekinetic rampage at the prom, the school photographer tries to film what's happening, and we briefly see the action through the lens of his camera, found footage-style. He gets a table to the face the moment that Carrie makes eye contact with the camcorder. The original version of the script was supposed to have a greater found-footage component; this scene was likely an artifact of that. A non-fatal example comes earlier in the film when Chris films Carrie's humiliation in the school showers, which turns out to be incriminating evidence that she was responsible for the prank, meaning that she's not getting unbanned from the prom no matter how much her rich father tries to argue her case.
- In Deadpool, Negasonic Teenage Warhead starts tweeting in the midst of the confrontation between the heroes and villains. The villains obligingly wait for her to finish and even let her make the first move.
- Made-for-TV Movie, A Fairly Odd Summer, the third and final of The Fairly Oddparents live-action movies, has a wealthy family about to go out on a vacation. However, the parents are overly obsessed with their social status online. As soon as someone makes a negative comment about them on a social page, they quickly bail on their vacation and just send the kids off by themselves... with Vicky.
- The Gentlemen: Was hanging around to take selfies with a dead body that has just fallen off a tower block while four irate London Gangsters are trying to clear up the scene really a good idea? Quite frankly, the chavs are lucky they got off as lightly as they did.
- In God Bless America, after Frank and Roxy's shooting at the cinema, they spot a guy filming it all on his cellphone — without any concern for his own safety. Frank shoots him right through his phone's camera lens.
- In Ted 2, this is Ted's reaction when he sees John covered in semen.
- In Thor: The Dark World, Jane Foster is trying to get civilians to evacuate. She's incredulous they're not only still around after the Big Bad and Thor are duking it out after the landfall of a giant alien ship but are all rushing to the windows to get their cell phones out. One even asks her if she's kidding about leaving, since Thor's right there.
- Wish Upon: If one of your best friends has just developed necrotizing fasciitis (a.k.a. 'flesh eating disease') and is freaking out, then now is probably not the time to snap a photo of her and post it on the web.
- Anna and the Apocalypse: "#Evacselfie" becomes a trending topic as people take photos of themselves at evacuation centers, often posing with the zombies on the other side of the fence. Steph reacts appropriately.
"Well, we all deserve to go extinct."
- Subverted with Chris running back to grab his phone after he drops it. Steph criticizes him for trying to risk his life to retrieve a piece of glass and metal, but Chris explains that what he really wants is the photos of his girlfriend and grandmother that were saved on the phone, as they may be the last he sees of them alive.
- The Social Dilemma: In the story, the family's youngest daughter Isla is so addicted to her phone that when her mother locks it away for a dinner, she instead smashes the container and runs upstairs rather than eat without it.
- Fun Jungle: Quite a few people following a trend of streaming videos of themselves spanking zoo animals in Tyrannosaurus Wrecks, are mentioned as having been badly injured in the process.
- Austin & Ally: Austin tweets about "Suzy's Soups" going out of business while they're trying to save the restaurant.
- Downplayed in The Big Bang Theory: Penny is upset with herself for having sex with Raj and hides out at Amy's apartment. Raj comes over to talk to her and reveals that the sex never happened; they were both too drunk and passed out after he came prematurely as she was helping him put on his condom.
Penny: How did you know I was here?
Raj: It's all over her Facebook page.
- Black Mirror:
- Naturally comes up a lot, given the themes and premise of the show. Highlighted in the trailer for series 2, which showed (among similar images) a crowd filming on their phones whilst a homeless man is murdered in front of them; and dozens of people holding up their phones as a huge, ominous dark cloud comes along to swallow them up.
- Perhaps best on display in Black Mirror: The Waldo Moment. A cartoon bear named Waldo runs in a by-election in England as a joke candidate, receiving criticism from competing traditional political candidates (who believe he makes a mockery of the democratic process) but also massive appeal from the voting public. Waldo ends up coming second behind the stuffy, humourless Jerkass Conservative candidate, but ultimately he turns out to be the last politician to win a British by-election: the Waldo movement not long after takes over Britain and turns it into a barking mad, populist Police State and worse, seems to be spreading across the world too.
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Eleventh Hour", the people of England watch the Sun mysteriously dimming over, and instead of running for some sort of probably-fruitless cover, they begin to film and tweet about it. The Doctor comments on this.
- If you weren't scared of social networks enough, "The Bells of Saint John" shows that there's a mastermind using all your updates to the Internet to track people, events, and the ridiculous situations you should really deal with before taking a selfie. The selfies help them steal identities. (Funnily enough, though, the bad guys make this same mistake: their social media accounts all mention where they work, which is how the Doctor tracks them down, with some help from Clara.)
- At the top of "Death in Heaven" people are gawking at the Cybermen who have just emerged from St. Paul's Cathedral in the previous episode's Cliffhanger; their mastermind Missy offers them photos with the cyborgs for a pound and even crows to the Doctor "We're trending!" as some people take them up on the offer. But they turn out to be a subversion: they're actually military personnel from UNIT come to ambush and apprehend both Missy and the Cybermen (and to take the Doctor with them to boot).
- In Dog with a Blog, Tyler attempts to post a photo to "Buddy Bop" when he realizes he only has 2% phone power. Meanwhile, the girls are trying to find a way to get Stan back in the house. Avery remarks, "You're wasting precious time here!"
- One episode of Kanpai Senshi After V was based around Treasure V facing huge public backlash after Blue Tweeted a picture of an enemy mook attacking a child, rather than actually stepping in to help the victim.
- Longmire: When an heir to a phenomenally wealthy family turns up dead, Walt takes pains to keep the story away from the press while they work on the case. While he's explaining this to the family, its bratty Phoneaholic Teenager tweets out the news, then tries to take a selfie with him.
- NCIS: A carload of teens has just collided with a dying Naval officer and they pile out of the car to check on him. One of the teens is clearly addicted to social media.
"Get off Facebook and dial 911!"
- Played for laughs in Scream Queens (2015). Chanel #2 is alone in a room with the series' Serial Killer and chooses to tweet about it instead of calling for help. She's promptly murdered right after.
- World's Dumbest...:
- Played With in pretty much every way, typically in one of two scenarios — either someone will film a disaster and its aftermath instead of doing something to help, prompting the commentators to jokingly Lampshade the importance of continuing to film the events; or someone will stop filming and go to help, prompting the commentators to complain (and, in some cases, re-enact the probable aftermath themselves).
- Another form of this occurs when someone films something embarrassing and decides to erase the tape — which apparently means "send it to TruTV so Danny Bonaduce can make fun of it."
- Freak Kitchen's song "Freak of the Week" is about exactly this. Just check out the lyrics:
I'm the new black / I'm opium to thee / Will do anything / For popularity
Mutilate myself / Become an amputee / Like me, like me, won't you like me?
- AJJ has the song #armageddon, in which people spend the Apocalypse taking pictures and posting about Satan's minions mercilessly slaughtering everyone.
- In Chapter 5 of Celeste, Theo goes into a mysterious temple to get cool pictures for his InstaPix followers. This ends badly. In his defense, he had no way of knowing beforehand that the temple was some freaky Eldritch Location.
- In Hifuu Nightmare Diary ~ Violet Detector, Sumireko is trapped within a dream where everyone attacks her with danmaku. Frustrated with the looping nightmares, she decides she better makes use of it and starts taking pictures within the dreams and posting them on social media to gain followers. Thanks to her unique circumstances with dreams, the photos carry over to the real world somehow.
- Let It Die features Colonel Jackson, whose fetish involved taking selfies in the blast radius of the bombs he made himself, sometimes with his partner/lover Johnny. It ended about as well as you'd expect, with Johnny getting blown in half. The subsequent grief-driven rampage is what leads Jackson to get decapitated and become the second Don of the Tower of Barbs.
- Rabbid Peach in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has an obsession with selfies as a character quirk. She even takes them when her personal safety is being compromised, like when she was being grabbed and slammed by a Piranha Plant.
- One of D.Va's highlight intros in Overwatch is her ejecting from her mech after hitting the self destruct, only to stop and take a selfie of herself flashing a V-Sign with her Meka exploding in the background. Somewhat Justified since, in-game, she's immune to the self-destruct itself.
- The fickleness of social media in general plays a huge role in Persona 5, particularly regarding the forum that the Phantom Thieves use to collect intel on their targets. The media flip-flops between laying it on thick/abusing the thieves' services, and turning on them and labeling them pariahs. This gets especially troubling for the thieves when the head of The Conspiracy they've been fighting against confesses to his crimes; his lackeys slander the thieves on social media sites and the people of Tokyo eat it up, no questions asked, despite the fact that Shido and his party had absolutely no interest in Japan's welfare. It comes to a head during the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, where you learn that all of Tokyo embodies the sin of Sloth and serve as the masters of the aforementioned dungeon along with the Final Boss. It also doubles as commentary: the people of Tokyo would rather be told what to do than divert from the expectations laid out before them, and one symptom includes taking things at face value.
- Levi from Starlink: Battle for Atlas has a rep amongst his crew for taking and posting selfies of himself everywhere, and snuck onboard the Equinox in the name of boosting his follower count, as noted in one of Victor St. Grand's crew files.
- Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Mortal Kombat X both involve fighters who think that the middle of a martial arts match is the perfect time to take a selfie with the opponent. In the latter case, it's part of a Fatality.
- One of the random conversations in has someone lamenting that onlookers were more concerned about snapping photos and videos of an accident than helping.
- The trope is averted in normal gameplay; NPCs will stop to photograph unusual events (e.g. the infamous vigilante Aidan Pierce) but run or call the cops if things get too dangerous (e.g. the infamous vigilante Aidan Pierce blows up part of the road).
- We Become What We Behold has you accepting orders from an unknown source where you have to photograph "something interesting". It later escalates to prejudice, violence, and full-blown massacre.
- Subverted in Yandere Simulator: The bullies are very dangerous obstacles because of their penchant for social media. If they catch Yandere-chan in the middle of a murder, they will swiftly take a picture and try to post it to social media, requiring Yandere-chan to murder them and crush their phone so proof she's a murderer doesn't leak out. This applies to anyone holding a cell phone, really, but Phone Addicts like the bullies and the Gaming Club do it much faster than anyone else holding a cell phone.
- xkcd comic Seismic Waves satirizes people who tweet obsessively by depicting them retweeting warnings about earthquakes rather than taking precautions. Became truth in 2011 Virginia Earthquake, where people in Boston and New York City reported reading Twitter messages from people in Baltimore, DC, and Richmond reacting to the earthquake 15-30 seconds before feeling the tremors themselves. This was largely due to the geology of the east coast, which is not prone to big earthquakes, resulting in older rock that transfers the energy further, but slower, than areas that are much more prone to Earthquakes.
- Played for Laughs in the Game Grumps's playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where Arin decides to take a selfie with Ganondorf in the middle of the Final Battle. Danny chews him out for his foolishness while he tries to justify it by saying "When am I ever gonna be here again?!". Danny made a Call-Back to this a few years later with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, snarkily asking Arin if he was going to repeat the stunt in this game (he didn't).
- In Tales From Dev Null's story The Boy Who Cried Wolf 2.0.
- In Bojack Horseman, this is what kills Herb Kazzaz, after his cancer goes into remission. He spends the drive home tweeting how he'll live forever, only to collide with a peanut truck, which causes his death by allergic reaction.
- Danger Mouse:
- In "The World Wide Spider", the monster-of-the-week's rampage keeps crossing paths with a tour group that's always standing in front of whichever landmark it's about to attack. The group includes one particular tourist who always stays put long enough to take a selfie of himself with the monster in the background.
- When Penfold gets addicted to his new phone, he starts posting vast quantities of selfies to social media, even while on secret missions. Baron Greenback uses these posts to track the duo and thwart DM's every move. DM is eventually to use Penfold's addiction to halt the Baron's scheme.
- Part 2 of the DC Super Hero Girls episode "Nevermore" has a teenager taking selfies in the middle of some destruction Raven accidentally caused. Batgirl is understandably annoyed when rescuing her.
- Mark Beaks of DuckTales (2017) is featured in an episode wherein he is constantly threatened by a hired thief named Falcon Graves. Falcon was hired to steal "Project Tadah", the company's upcoming product. Despite this, all Mark cares about is taking photos of himself with Falcon and updating his current status on social media. Falcon promptly destroys Mark's phone, but he keeps pulling out replacements and documenting every moment on social media. At first, one might think this is subverted given that Mark himself hired Graves in order to steal the nonexistent project so he could keep the money the investors gave him. But upon seeing his last phone tossed off the roof of the company, Mark dives down after it, catches it, takes a selfie and Types "YOLO" before hitting a trampoline he did not know would be there.
- Gravity Falls: We don't see it happen, but Wendy says this was the fate of Robbie during "Weirdmageddon". He would have gotten away from Bill Cipher's initial wave of weird, but he stopped to take a selfie.
- Kaeloo: In one episode where the main four get stranded on an island full of cannibals, Pretty decides to take pictures of herself crying over them getting stuck and post them on social media site Fakebook. Her sister then points out that she could go rescue them instead.
- Miraculous Ladybug: When there's an Akuma attack, there is amateur Intrepid Reporter Alya Cesaire trying to capture Livestream footage for her Ladyblog, even if the Akumatized villain is a Person of Mass Destruction and it would be smarter to run like hell.
- Steven Universe:
- Ronaldo puts social media before his own safety when being pummeled by a gang of sentient watermelons he didn't care about the injuries he was receiving so long as he got it on video for a livestream. According to his Character Blog, it didn't even work.
NOOOOOOO! I FORGOT TO INCLUDE A LINK TO THE LIVESTREAM!!! DID ANYONE SCREEN CAP WHAT HAPPENED?!! THAT WAS SO WEIRD!! AND I MIGHT HAVE A BROKEN RIB!!!
- In "Gem Hunt" Steven takes his promise to take photos of his friend Connie's first mission for her parents a little too seriously. For instance, taking a photo of the hostile super-soldier who's currently taunting him with the Gem she just ripped out of giant monster.
- Ronaldo puts social media before his own safety when being pummeled by a gang of sentient watermelons he didn't care about the injuries he was receiving so long as he got it on video for a livestream. According to his Character Blog, it didn't even work.
- So many deaths and injuries have occurred while taking selfies that Wikipedia has its own page for selfie-related deaths and injuries.
- In one incident that occurred in December 2013, a woman decided that — rather than do something helpful or respectful in regard to a would-be jumper on the Brooklyn Bridge — she would take a selfie as police talked the jumper down in the background.
- While no humans were killed, a baby dolphin died of dehydration when a group of people all passed it around to take pictures with it.
- Vicky Xipolitakis, an Argentine diva, took a flight and was invited by the pilots to the cockpit. She joked with them during the takeoff sequence, was even allowed to press the throttle... and filmed everything, and uploaded her video of her antics to Twitter. As you may suspect, the two pilots were fired immediately, and the three of them (the pilots and Xipolitakis) faced legal action for their dangerous stunt.
- This seems to become a trend in Russia, to the point where the government felt it necessary to start a "Safe Selfie" campaign. Read, for example, here. Ranging from shooting oneself in the head during selfie to holding a live, unpinned hand grenade!
- This problem crops up pretty regularly at national parks and other sites of natural beauty. Folks, no matter how much you think you need to, or how cool the resulting picture would be:
- Do not climb onto railings or parapets or lean out over the edge of a cliff to get a better view.
- Do not wander off the trail to get a better view.note
- Do not wander out into the road to get a better view.
- Do not pick up, pet, or feed the animals. If an animal moves away from you, do not follow it. If an animal approaches you, move calmly in the other direction.
- Geraldo Rivera did this during the second Iraq war. He specifically filmed himself highlighting detailed troop locations, numbers and movement prior to combat operations, and broadcast it well in advance of the actual events, and was swiftly kicked out by the Army afterward. He did this knowing full well the fate of Daniel Pearl, and numerous civilian contractors who were set on fire, alive, and hung from bridges by the enemy Iraqi soldiers and their Al Qaeda sympathizers. He was, and still is, shocked that the allied army and the viewing public in general hate him, and to a lesser extent, his network, for doing this.
- In Odisha, India, somebody tried to take a selfie with a wounded bear. No points for guessing his lifespan. Bonus points for guessing that this was the third person in 2018 to be killed trying to take a selfie with a wild animal in Odisha alone, though the other two were both related to elephants.
- In India, a man was hit by a train while taking a selfie. He managed to survive the incident, though, unlike many of the other real-life examples listed here.
- On May 1st of 2020, a group of about 60 men, including two American former Green Berets, entered Venezuela with the intention of capturing President Nicolás Maduro and overthrowing the government. Almost immediately after they crossed the Venezuela border, they were attacked, resulting in eight of their members being killed and thirteen arrested, including both Americans. The would-be revolutionaries had been discussing their plans openly on Twitter beforehand and even uploaded several videos, letting Venezuelan authorities know exactly when and where they'd be.