(TMU) — To state the obvious, nothing is sacred to Instagram influencers seeking “likes” and online clout.
Just a couple years after selfie-takers earned infamy for the so-called “yolocaust” trend, which involved social media users taking inappropriate selfies at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Instagrammers are back at it again with the latest trend of taking sexy selfies at the site of the Chernobyl disaster.
si buscáis las fotos por ubicación Chernobyl en Instagram os podéis encontrar este tipo de cosas pic.twitter.com/uxGF0jiOyp
— lettipop (@lettipop) June 6, 2019
The former site of the nuclear power plant at Pripyat in Ukraine has now predictably become a sort of pilgrimage site as a result of the huge success of the HBO series Chernobyl. According to Daily Mail, the largely-abandoned ghost town that lies 70 miles north of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev has seen a 30-40 percent boom in tourism in recent weeks.
And as is the case with any tourism trap, the spooky grounds of the exclusion zone have become the unusual backdrop for a series of photos by influencers on the hunt for an online following on the social platform.
Some users are even posing half-naked at the site, with one Instagram user named nz.nik standing topless in an unzipped hazmat suit and a thong as she makes sexy poses at the disaster site.
The photo, in particular, has come under fire from users, with one comment stating:
“This photo is disrespectful to the people who lost their lives. How insensitive can you be?”
One Instagram influencer from Austria, Julia Baessler—who enjoys 320,000 fans on the platform as well as partnerships with companies like Monster Energy—came under fire online after posting photos of herself posing in the control room of the No. 4 reactor that exploded.
Baessler deleted many of her Chernobyl posts after becoming the subject of a now-viral tweet blasting her and other users of cynically exploiting the disaster for mere social media clout.
“People died there in a very horrific way—have some respect,” one user said. Another user called the photo “stupid,” while a third blasted the images as “disrespectful in the extreme“.
The new trend has even sparked an intervention by HBO series’ creator, Craig Mazin, who issued a notice to influencers that they should be more sensitive. Writing on Twitter, Mazin said:
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 (@clmazin) June 11, 2019
According to official estimates, 31 people died in the Chernobyl meltdown, which was the world’s worst nuclear disaster when it occurred in April 1986. However, some estimate 4,000 dead to upwards of 90,000.
However, the bravery of Soviet disaster recovery personnel, who risked their lives in immediate response to the calamity, is believed to have kept the death toll from potentially reaching into the millions.
View this post on Instagram
Прип‘ять. Наймолодше місто Радянського Союзу. Місто-мрія. Два роки роботи – і в тебе квартира в новобудові. Не у якійсь там хрущовці, а сучасна, з заскленим балконом! А поряд річка, великий магазин, схожий на західні супермаркети, будинок культури, ресторани, кінотеатр, басейн, а для дітей – велика школа та дитсадок… До того ж зарплати хороші, а ще можна путівку в санаторій отримати, бо ти ж на атомній станції працюєш, а це почесно! Але… Трохи брехні + одна помилка – і ця казка лишилася десь в минулому. Нині там, де раніше ступали люди, – господарює природа. Прип‘ять перетворилася з казки в жах, а Чорнобиль став вироком тоталітарному режиму.