US President Barack Obama may have moved the masses attending Nelson Mandela’s memorial service with his stirring eulogy on Tuesday, but it was his grinning “selfie” with the Danish and British premiers that set social networks abuzz.
In a candid moment captured by AFP photographer Roberto Schmidt, Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt can be seen holding up her smartphone, with Obama lending a helping hand, as they pose for a picture with David Cameron, all three of them smiling broadly in their seats at Soweto’s World Cup stadium.
First Lady Michelle Obama, sitting to the left of her husband, does not join in with the light-hearted moment, keeping her eyes firmly trained on the podium where world leaders were paying tribute to South Africa’s hero Mandela, who died Thursday aged 95.
The so-called selfie – short for self-portrait – was quickly picked up by major international news outlets and went viral on social media sites, with many questioning whether the moment of mirth was appropriate for the occasion.
“There should be a moratorium on ‘selfies’ during memorials and funerals, no?” tweeted @JeffryHalverson.
“Is This The Most Important Selfie Of 2013?” headlined the US-based social news website Buzzfeed, noting that Michelle Obama seemed “not amused” by the impromptu photoshoot.
The act of taking selfies has become increasingly popular in recent years. The word itself was named this year’s word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries.
A selfie is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website”.