Don’t get me wrong I am a bit of a social media junkie. I am involved in most of the top social media sites out there. It is a phenomenon of the 21st century which cannot be avoided and is best embraced or get left behind so to speak. Any 20 odd year old readers don’t know any different but everything is out there nowadays warts and all. Most of it is a positive experience but like most things in life there is a dark side.
For instance it first came to my attention when a young boy in my daughters school aged 18 died tragically in a skiing accident several years ago and the ‘trolling’ community decided to make a spoof Facebook page to ridicule and Photoshop images of him with obnoxious comments which were of the utmost bad taste. I found it quite unbelievable that there were such minds out there who would do this for fun.. I delved further to find that there was a whole community that looked for RIP pages and did the same for many other young people. I discovered pages way more shocking than the original. How upsetting for friends and family to discover these in the depth of their grief. However I put it down to a small faction of disunited youths ( or not so young) that took pleasure in others shock reactions and misery.
But then the Boston Marathon Tragedy. Any normal human being has feelings of sympathy and outrage but no, I have discovered on Twitter (and I haven’t gone looking!) some really bad taste jokes getting many likes. Anyone suggesting it is wrong/distasteful is shot down and told not to look and if you don’t find it funny to unfollow. I have seen on Facebook spoof pictures of an 8-year-old child running apparently in the marathon in aid of the Sandy Hook kids. It is shared by many genuine, caring people but it is FALSE! All in aid of their post going viral and getting recognition, for what, I really don’t get. The child is apparently alive and well. How disturbing for the parents/family
Then there are the images, there is an etiquette in journalism that you can only show so much graphic detail and it has strict boundaries, rightly so, as no to offend. Not so in cyberland, anything goes as freedom of speech/right to know. I have seen photos of the Boston marathon of victims with their legs blown off in shreds (on Instagram) with captions like ‘As a Muslim this makes me smile!’ and the following tasteless comments. Of people dead or dying with made up stories surrounding the image just to get more hits!
It got me thinking that (god forbid) I was ever in a situation such as the Boston Bombing, I too could be photographed and ridiculed. The image of me dead or dying with some spoof cover story brandished around Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc would be there for friends and family to stumble across at any time. I personally find this a gross invasion of personal rights as a human being.
Social media is a good thing generally but there is a true dark side that has no rules, regulations or human decency. Is this freedom of speech? I, like the majority of humankind find the people who place bombs to kill and maim as many people as possible impossible to comprehend. However I find the many people who jump on these incidents for their own ends equally disturbing.
So do we have to adjust that in the new world order of social media that we are all vulnerable to this kind of unwanted exposure in the hour of our greatest need!?