The terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday elicited a wide range of reactions across social media, from Facebook to Twitter and beyond.
But these emotions and reactions were mostly “useless” and “stupid.”
That’s coming from Rurik Bradbury, CMO of commerce software company Trustev who is perhaps best known for his satirical Twitter account, “@profjeffjarvis.”
After one of Bradbury’s fake tweets was confused as real by thousands of people this weekend, he sent an email to the Washington Post sharing his thoughts on how social media reacts during a tragedy.
His entire email is worth a read, but this paragraph perfectly sums up his thoughts on why social media is so “useless” during a tragedy, like the one that happened in Paris:
The part that feels the most useless to me is people’s vicarious participation in the event, which on the ground is a horrible tragedy, but in cyberspace is flattened to a meme like any other. Millions of people with no connection to Paris or the victims mindlessly throw in their two cents: performative signalling purely for their own selfish benefit, spreading information that is often false and which they have not vetted at all, simply for the sake of making noise. If people wanted to be helpful, they would either be silent, or they would put in some — even minimal — effort to be thoughtful. First, they could spread useful and vetted information. And second, they could throw support behind a viewpoint they believe in, such as speaking out against politicians using the attacks to demonize Muslims or migrants, which is exactly what the murderers responsible for the Paris attacks want to provoke.
Considering how many people retweeted Bradbury’s fake tweet, his thoughts are an honest reflection at how millions of people participate in global tragedies via social networks like Facebook and Twitter before it “fades into their timelines.”
Read Bradbury’s entire email to the Washington Post here.
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