Death, grief and social media

Surely you’ve heard about the bombings in Boston yesterday. I’m very sorry to hear about it – it’s a tragedy and it really is very awful.

But do I have to post that on my Facebook page? Or my twitter or whatever other social network there is?

People have this urge to seem good, to show that they care about the people around them and I’m sure we do care. I believe compassion, along with many other features, is part of human nature. In my opinion though it’s incredibly insensitive to post about something you don’t have anything to do with. So many people posted that they would pray for Boston, but honestly, will they take the time to pray? And how will theses postings affect the families of those in Boston of those who lost a loved one, those still fighting for their lives in hospital? Are they going to miraculously get better? Will it bring back the dead? Will it manage to comfort those in grief?
It won’t do any of that.
All it will do is reassure some insecure soul who heard about the bombings on the TV that they will not be judged for being insensitive.
I guess that’s how it starts. One person expresses their compassion, another follows because you don’t want to be seen as cold, assuring everyone you’re a really caring person.
Only a person who is affected all the time by this incident, whatever incident, who has it constantly present in his mind and who needs comfort or release, in my opinion, has the right to post about it. Otherwise it’s nobody else’s business.


I think it has to do with us always throwing ourselves onto the next hype. I realize it’s quite tasteless to compare the bombings with a hype, but that’s what it is.
Do you remember Kony 2012? That was when everyone made a huge fuss about those poor kids in Africa getting robbed from their homes and forced to kill or prostitute themselves. It is terrible and it is on-going. For a while there we thought something was going to change due to this new campaign. But then the whole thing died down and people somehow forgot to share their compassion for those kids on Facebook.
It’s the same with birthdays, really. On that day you get hundreds of people posting “Happy Birthday <3" when you've hardly ever spoken to them and all you can say is "Thanks :)". But you have to reply to all of them, because otherwise you're antisocial.

But honestly, posting pretence is quite antisocial, in my opinion.
Do you think anyone who wrote: "Sending all my love to Boston! R.I.P." ever thought about flying to Boston and holding someone's hand who just lost a sister or a son or a father? Do you think they considered helping out in the house for a few days because someone else is drowning in grief. That's compassion, not a digital post you can type in five seconds, broadcast in one.


So, please, next time there’s a tsunami, earthquake, hurricane, shooting, outbreak of civil war or whatever – if you feel compassionate to do something helpful, feel free to do so; but if not, stay quiet. It’s not about you right now.


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