MANILA – A woman has come under fire after she was photographed posing against the backdrop of a burning building, which some Internet users called "insensitive."
Several memes have been posted online using the photo which seems to have been taken on Thursday morning, while the building near the Makati Medical Center was on fire.
"Selfie selfie din pag may time," went one caption, while another proclaimed, “This girl is on FIRE!"
Others have also edited the woman in the viral photo to make it look like she was part of grim events such as the recent Asiana Flight 214 plane crash in the United States, a wartime execution, the September 11 attack in New York, the march of German leader Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during World War II, and the Vietnam War.
Some netizens came up with photos showing the woman against scenes of traffic on EDSA, actress Kris Aquino crying on television, and a screen capture of a child dancing on a television game show, which sparked controversy.
While some made fun of the viral photo, others expressed disappointment in the tendency of the so-called “Me Generation” to be self-absorbed.
“Seriously? Your smiling ?#selfie? 's gonna be trending in a few... in a bad way. ?#Fire? coming from the houses near ?#MakatiMed? not from the hospital itself,” posted Jeff Alagar on Facebook. His post had 66 likes, 542 shares and 172 comments as of writing.
As of 3:20 p.m., the hashtag “#selfie” and the words “Makati Med” became local trending topics on Twitter.
“Be sensitive tsk tsk tsk.....What if that's ur house or relatives house...Common ilagay sa lugar ang kaartehan....” said Nholy Sabio, who shared Alagar’s post.
Celebrity Karen Bordador, who also posted the photo on Twitter, said the post was the “ultimate selfie of the day.” She asked her followers if what the woman did was understandable or done in bad taste.
“There best be a good reason why the objects in this photo are so positioned,” said Youghp Cornejo on Facebook. “Self-absorption (facilitated today by social media) and the resulting apathy are becoming a disease.”
Parody account @JejemonBinay called the photo a "Sunog schadenfreude." A schadenfreude, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.
Paolo Batallones, meanwhile, said on Twitter, “Someone posts a selfie with the Makati fire in the background. Cue every self-righteous selfie-taker on these wretched islands.”
A number of netizens, however, felt sorry for the woman in the viral photo as they asked other Internet users to avoid resorting to cyberbullying.
“There's a new person who will be bullied, the #selfie girl in the Makati fire photo. Wonder how fast people will publish her personal details,” quipped Paolo Capino on Twitter.
“Sure it was a bit tasteless, but she doesn't need to be cyber-bullied!” said Jay Abastillas.
“Sus. don't gang up on the poor woman. am sure she's realized her mistake by now. #makatifireselfie,” said user Ceso.
Alagar, who was among those who triggered the spread of the photo early on Thursday, said it was posted by a friend of the woman without her consent.
“He accidentally posted the photo online without the consent of his friend who's in the photo, but I already reposted the photo when it started spreading over Twitter the first few hours this morning,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com.
Alagar said he decided to post the photo “out of sudden madness” as he felt bad for the people struggling to save people and possessions as the fire engulfed houses. He clarified he never said anything bad about the woman online, and that the “flames” started in the comments.
“I'm ready to remove the photo anytime as I felt bad for the girl. While it was supposed to be private, it was accidentally posted by her friend and has triggered cyberbullying. Worst part is, she may not be aware of it up to now,” he said.
As of this article’s posting, Alagar has taken down the photo.
“Turned down the viral photo. The MAKATI MED SMILING GIRL photo was mistakenly posted by her friend without her consent. Even if it was wrong, it was supposed to be private. Come on now people, we also have our amazingly stupid, crazily wrong moments too. We just don't do it in public. Now I shall rest my case. Good afternoon,” he said in his status message on Facebook.
A screen capture of a conversation one netizen had with the alleged source of the photo, posted in response to a tweet by blogger Rod Magaru about the Makati fire, showed that he was sorry for posting the photo online.
As of posting, the man has not responded to any questions from ABS-CBNnews.com.
This morning, Makati City became a hot topic on social media, as two fires hit the city. One fire was in a slum area along Dela Rosa Street in Barangay Pio Del Pilar near Makati Medical Center.
The fire, which destroyed houses and displaced around 300 families, was declared out at 1 p.m.
The other fire hit Doña Guadalupe Building located at the corner of Kamagong and Bagtikan Streets in Barangay San Antonio.