#WeAreNotAfraid -- Trump Jr, Fake News, Selfies And Doctors Show Both Sides Of Social On London Attack

London Underground stations have become famous for their witty information boards, which generally reveal whether there is currently a good or bad service with a little humour thrown in. They are routinely shared on each line's Twitter feed, and often go viral. So if you want to know how Londoners feel this morning, one of those boards summed it up perfectly. "All terrorists are reminded this is London and whatever you do to us we will drink tea and jolly well carry on."

Well, actually -- I hate to break it to you -- this apparently excellent example of the classic stiff-upper lip humour in the face of adversity was actually fake news. It was covered as real by the BBC, but it turns out that the picture is a joke that has evolved into fake news.

It typifies a day of tragedy in which we saw the best and the worst of the human spirit, now that a worldwide audience is just a snap and a click away from social media. The very fact that one of the first requests from the authorities was to ask people to share photos and videos of the incident with them, rather than think first to post them on social media, is an indication of the darker side of the day.



I couldn't swear by it -- the news footage tended to be a little shaky -- but I'm pretty sure I saw people using their smartphones to take pictures of the injured, and possibly the dead, as they crossed Westminster Bridge yesterday. The fact that many people put out appeals for people to stop posting and sharing gory photos suggests that this was the case. The Sun newspaper outed the "selfie man" who was walking through the carnage taking pictures on a selfie stick.

Twitter summed up the twin sides of the day perfectly. There were messages of condolence -- including one from the NYPD -- for the fallen police offer guarding the Houses of Parliament, and countless stories of people helping the injured. These have been joined today by messages for the Spanish teacher, the second named fatality, who was on her way to pick up her kids from school.

On a positive note, one of the images that will stay with me was the nurses and doctors running from nearby St Thomas's Hospital to be on the scene as early as possible. Another is the politician, Tobias Ellwood, already being labelled the "Hero MP" for battling in vain to save the life of the police officer. Few, including myself, would have realised that not only was he a former military man, but he had also lost a brother in the Bali bombing in 2002. The images of him covered in blood trying to save the life of the unarmed officer will likely be the ones that will come to sum up the day's tragic events.

Then there was Donald Trump Junior. What can you say about a guy who tweets comments made by the London Mayor out of context at the worst possible time? If you want to get an idea about how diverse London is, the mayor who took over from bumbling public school boy Boris Johnson (now Foreign Secretary) is Sadiq Khan. The name says it all. Six months ago he lamented that the risk of a terror attack always comes with living in a big city. Trump Jr tweeted to lampoon Khan for his comment yesterday, perhaps not realising it was made six months ago or perhaps because he thought it was a good time to bring up a six-month-old observation. It wasn't. it was a fact of life that anybody living in a major city has sadly come to terms with.

Then we have many people unhelpfully pointing out that the public doesn't make the link between the attacker's religion and the act of violence, questioning Londoners' acceptance of people regardless of race or faith. Set against this, we have posts reminding us all that when an MP, Jo Cox, was brutally killed in public last June, it was at the hands of a white, right wing extremist in the run up to the EU referendum.

In the middle of it all, though, there was a quandary. The BBC kept showing a couple of videos taken by tourists outside the House of Parliament which showed the immediate aftermath. In one, the three shots that killed the attacker can clearly be heard from behind the perimeter fence which protects the Palace of Westminster. Were the amateur videographers ghoulish voyeurs or helpful reporters bringing us a scene no news camera crew was there to record?

In the days of Facebook Live, it's probably going to come down to personal opinion but I think we can agree that once the police are on scene and news cameras are everywhere, stopping to take a victim's photo with the express intention of sharing it on social is about as low as it gets.

I will never forget the words of wisdom I once heard relayed through a native American tale. It's a story i frequently remind my kids of. A chief is said to have taken his son to one side to explain there is a good and bad wolf in all of us. One wants to do the right thing and help people, the other is selfish and only thinks of itself and sees everyone as just food. Both are constantly fighting in a bid to take us over. The son asks his father which one eventually wins the battle. The chief replies, "Depends which one you feed".

5 comments about "#WeAreNotAfraid -- Trump Jr, Fake News, Selfies And Doctors Show Both Sides Of Social On London Attack".
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  1. Ari Rosenberg from Performance Pricing Holdings, LLC, March 23, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.

    Sean in the immediate aftermath of this horrific event you managed to capture the bigger meaning in a column that must have blead right through you. Godbless you and our brothers across the pond.  Much love and much respect.

  2. Sean Hargrave from Sean Hargrave, March 23, 2017 at 10:44 a.m.

    Thanks Ari, that's very touching.

  3. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, March 23, 2017 at 11:01 a.m.

    Sean: Superb commentary.  Heartfelt condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives.  We all will indeed "jolly well carry on".  As a Brit now living in the US I will have a cup of tea - where there is tea there is hope!

  4. John Grono from GAP Research, March 23, 2017 at 6:34 p.m.

    A very moving article Sean.   All true words of wisdom beautifully written.

    Our thoughts are with all of you from Downunder.

  5. Sean Hargrave from Sean Hargrave replied, March 24, 2017 at 10:29 a.m.

    Exactly, us Brits always know the answer to anything is a cup of tea, or even a G&T.

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