In times of tragedy, should we block out social media noise or find a way to interpret it? As a journalist I am grateful for the diversity of opinions a mouse-click away. But I also worry that so many unfiltered voices will muddy the waters of truth and clarity, leaving us more upset and confused.
For example: A great many people believed the following tweet from @ProfJeffJarvis, conditioned, perhaps, by social media’s proliferation.
Wow. Lights off on the Eiffel Tower for the first time since 1889. pic.twitter.com/ZkeU5GmJfM
— Scary PJJ 2016 (@ProfJeffJarvis) November 14, 2015
The Eiffel Tower always shuts down at 1 a.m. And there are a host of other reasons to immediately call out the tweet as implausible…or laugh at the tweet’s subtle jab at the hastily assembled, unverified history blazing across the Internet.
The Twitter-er — real name Rurik Bradbury — shared his reactions with The Washington Post:
“The social media reaction to a tragedy is a spaghetti mess of many strands, some OK but most of them useless…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.”