“Have you ever seen a funeral procession go past and felt the urge to shout abuse? Perhaps something mild such as ‘I’ve never heard of him!’ or ‘He was rubbish!’. No, me either.
In June, Shane Richmond, Head of (Editorial) Technology for The Telegraph, called for civility on Twitter when it comes to grieving.
We may not hear about a close friend’s death on Twitter, but if we spend any time in the Twitterverse we’ll definitely see breaking news about the death of someone in the public eye: Amy Winehouse, Gore Vidal, Adam Yauch, Nora Ephron: we probably never met them, and may not have known their work. But the news went out on Twitter for the world to see.
I’m convinced something happens to people when they feel compelled to comment on the internet. Maybe it’s temporary insanity, maybe it’s an inflated sense of self-importance. Maybe they’re unable to think before they type.
But if you read the comments on a blog or Facebook page, or follow a hashtag on Twitter, sooner or later you’ll read something that makes you think “who are these people?”
Beyond simply disseminating the news, some people feel the need to weigh in on the death of a celebrity. That’s their right.
Often, though, the comments go beyond their own feelings about the person who died. For whatever reason, they’re not sorry that person died, and they feel compelled to criticize those who do.
As Richmond says, would you go to a funeral of someone you didn’t like and criticize the mourners for grieving? Sounds unnecessarily cruel, doesn’t it? More likely you’d simply keep your mouth shut or stay away completely.
People don’t do that online. They weigh in on things that have nothing to do with them, expressing opinions that serve no purpose except to hurt someone.
Maybe you’ve done it – with no malice intended. Maybe you’ve commented on a celebrity death in a less than respectful way. Maybe you made a joke, or what you considered a joke.
Well, you know what? Stop it. Imagine if that celebrity was your best friend, and you logged onto Twitter expecting to see tributes. But instead you found hundreds of “who cares if they’re dead?” tweets.
It takes on a different meaning now, doesn’t it?
Next time you’re tempted to type a snarky comment online…stop. And think before you tweet.