Tragic events unfold.
The BBC News website, and I'm sure many others, have things on a Live Stream. Videos appeared on YouTube within minutes. The explosions that signaled the end of a fun day for Boston residents were caught live on camera and by the time you read this those images will have been shown again and again and again on 101 different news channels all with hours and hours of scheduling to fill.
But even with that direct connection, and that sense of immediacy, it still seems too distant for some people. They have to put themselves right in the middle of it all. This blog post is probably part of the problem, but I assure you that it's making a point and I will not be sharing it around as I do with my movie reviews.
Years ago I worked with a woman who had a tale that she dined out on for years. She had been to visit the Twin Towers the day before they were brought down. That was it. People were in awe as she told her tale, safely back in Edinburgh and vicariously experiencing a small part of that horrible, awful, strange day.
Today I saw the news of the bombs going off in Boston and I sighed as I started to see things pop up on my computer screen. Hashtags used for any message regarding the situation, hatred and bile spread by the scum of the Westboro Baptist Church and even people changing Facebook page names to capitalise on the traffic spike.
But, strangely enough, it seems to be the people thinking that they're doing good who annoy me the most. The people with good intentions who want to show love and compassion so quickly that they don't check anything. Why "share" and/or "like" a photo encouraging people to pray for the victims when actually praying is key to that act of faith. As an atheist, do I get brownie points for sharing such a photo and not giving it a second thought? No, but the person who started the whole thing off can be happy as the whole thing snowballs.
Similarly, people sharing a photo in memory of the child who died in the explosions. Grrrrrrrrr. Apparently a young boy died. Well, the photo is of a young girl, as is the accompanying information. Not only is it incorrect, but it's so lazy and obviously created simply to get likes and shares (one message read, I kid you not, "1 like = R.I.P") that it's disrespectful both to those who died and also to those living. Think of anyone who knows that child in the photo looking online and getting quite a shock.
I don't know what we can do to make it stop, but I do know that we need to try. Our response to these events runs through a whole range of emotions, of course, and communicating with others and sharing a sense of shock and fear and remorse is understandable. In fact, knowing that you're connected to people that you really ARE connected to is one of the few positives to come out of such a negative. But a photo being shared or liked, or both, isn't going to help any of the victims. It's not going to bring whoever was responsible for this heinous act to justice. It's not going to create money for a charitable effort created to help the victims. It's not going to turn into donated blood. It's not even going to mean a lot at the time to a lot of people who really won't be too bothered just now about keeping up with their social networking.
All it does is get attention for someone who can't get it any other way, despite needing it 24/7 and needing more and more and more.
If this post feels hypocritical and just the same way then so be it. It's not intended that way. I just had to get it out of my system, even if I'm the only person who ever reads this.