In case you missed it, Ariana Grande’s concert at the Manchester Arena suffered a terrorist attack on May 22 that left 22 people dead and at least 59 injured. It should go without saying that it is a time of mourning and grieving for Manchester and across the world. So how can people be so cruel as to exploit such a tragedy?
Twitter has become an instrumental part of our daily news cycle, and in cases like the attack in Manchester, that can be a double-edged sword. Celebrities and fans have been sending their love and support to Ariana Grande and those affected by the attack since news of it broke Monday night. Residents and business owners in Manchester have been tweeting using #RoomForManchester to make it known they were a safe space offering food, drinks, phone chargers, or a place to stay to emergency workers or victims of the attack and their families. Concerned family members and friends have reached out to Twitter to ask for help in finding missed ones that have been missing since the attack. Those are all wonderful things that could not have happened with social media, and we should all be grateful that social media exists to unite us in times of such great tragedies.
That being said, Twitter and other social media platforms also provide an abundance of misinformation and gross insensitivity. Freelance writer David Leavitt tweeted jokes about the attack the very same night it was reported.
Editors, remember this man's name and never hire him.
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) May 23, 2017
After receiving blowback from the tweets, he deleted some of the tweets and sent his condolences to those affected (but honestly at this point do his condolences really mean anything?):
In other selfish trends on Twitter, people have been using photos of people not present at the concert and reporting them missing online, pleading for Twitter’s help in finding them.
Not only is this incredibly disrespectful, but it is also incredibly damaging as it takes focus off of real missing people in need of help. When people just want to help in whatever small way they can (even if it means just retweeting a photo of a missing person), they often have no way of verifying the information they’re spreading. And they in no way should be faulted for retweeting a hoax picture, but the accounts that initially posted it absolutely should be.
Various media outlets have also been capitalizing off of the attack, posting pictures of Ariana Grande following the attack and reporting on the state of her tour.
— Us Weekly (@usweekly) May 23, 2017
— Daily Mail Celebrity (@DailyMailCeleb) May 23, 2017
Ultimately, it is no one’s business what she’s been up to since the attack or what the fate of her tour is at the moment. Although she may be physically uninjured, she has just suffered a heavy trauma and the media needs to be more respectful of that.
In times of tragedy, Twitter is an outlet for frustrations, a place to share in grief, and a place to reach out to those in need. Shame on those that have manipulated and corrupted it for some retweets and favorites.