In which an absurdist parody gets 25K RTs on a tweet that's supposed to be mock of our reaction to tragedies. https://t.co/am2uRi4MEN
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) November 14, 2015
As reported in the Washington Post:
On the night of the Paris attacks, Rurik Bradbury noticed an inevitable and tiresome trend popping up on Twitter. “I think I saw a professional news organization tweet about the lights of the Eiffel Tower being turned off in memory of the victims,” recalled Bradbury, the New York-based CMO of a software company. In the fog of war, and in the pursuit of virality, someone had mistaken the Eiffel Tower’s ordinary 1 a.m. darkness for a moving tribute.
Bradbury fired up the Twitter account of his alter ego, @ProfJeffJarvis. He used the well-known parody account, which makes fun of tech jargon and media “thinkfluencers,” to write a deadpan tweet about the icon of Paris going dark.
Wow. Lights off on the Eiffel Tower for the first time since 1889. pic.twitter.com/ZkeU5GmJfM
— Scary PJJ 2016 (@ProfJeffJarvis) November 14, 2015
It was a perfect imitation of the serious tone and hastily assembled expertise that was filling Twitter all night. And it became Bradbury/ProfJeff’s most popular tweet by many orders of magnitude. By Sunday, nearly 30,000 people had retweeted his utterly fake news, which he’d written to prove that people will fall for anything….
In an e-mail, Bradbury explained why the rapid sharing of anything vaguely inspiration-shaped after a tragedy was so unsettling to him.
The social media reaction to a tragedy is a spaghetti mess of many strands, some OK but most of them useless…. [T]he 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 signaling 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…
More at the link (including the perfect capper).
SUPPORTING FRANCE THROUGH PROFILE PICS IS BAD AND BEING SNARKY ABOUT PEOPLE SHOWING EMPATHY IS BAD AND YOU REALLY CANNOT WIN SO DON'T BOTHER
— luke oneil (@lukeoneil47) November 16, 2015
A more earnest take, from a different WaPo reporter, “Is posting support for Paris on Facebook narcissistic, or heartfelt?”:
We were in Paris, more than a mile from the attacks, enjoying a quiet Friday night dinner at an Alsatian restaurant, just as people on vacation do. Our first indication that something bad had happened wasn’t the sound of gunfire or explosions, but the buzz of a text from a family member back home: “Are you ok?”
We hurried out of there, and 15 minutes later, safe in our hotel room, my husband updated his Facebook status. I did the same.
As the night wore on, I was prompted by Facebook’s “Safety Check” feature: A message on my app asked, “Are you OK?” I marked myself safe. It got more than 100 likes. And that’s when I started to feel guilty. Did broadcasting my safety imply that I had actually been in danger, inserting myself into a tragedy I didn’t witness? Or was it just an efficient way to tell friends and family not to worry?…
Me, I think it reinforces Cole’s objection to ever adding ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ buttons to the Balloon Juice comment section!