Like a lot of people, I bet, every so often I wonder how our 9/11 experience would have been different if things like smartphone video, Facebook and Twitter were around.
This week, we’re getting an idea, good and bad.
Social media has, at the very least, aided terrorist organizations. At worst, they wouldn’t exist without them. On the thin plus side of that, law enforcement can monitor those communications, when they know about them.
On the plus side,the presence of social media created one great, spontaneous act: Manchester residents reached out via social media to offer places for stranded concert goers to spend the night when police made moving around in the area difficult.
And it was touching that U.K. vlogger Luke Cutforth and musician Dodie Clark have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for funeral expenses for Georgina Callander, 18 years old, who died in the concert tragedy. Callander, it turns out, was a huge fan of several YouTube vloggers. In the first few hour of the crowd funding attempt, more than $10,000 in donations came in. Sweet.
On the other ghoulish end of the spectrum, news reports said some social media trolls planted fake photos of people they claimed were friends and relatives who were lost at the concert. One post said police were holding 43 stranded and presumably frightened children at a nearby Holiday Inn. Totally heartless and totally false. The Washington Post reported that some well known YouTubers were reported as victims, as well as 4chan founder Chris Poole.
All of that reminded me that after 9/11 friends and relatives of the missing put posters up on telephone poles and other sites seeking information about a missing person in a picture on the sheet. I saw that phenomenon start at a armory where relatives were originally told to go by authorities so that they could discover any news about their missing friend/relative was. It was there they learned there was nothing to learn about most of them--they were "missing"-- and the postings began. They papered the city.
That was a civilized response after an uncivilized catastrophe, and before we knew how fully and thoroughly streaming video and streaming hate can make anybody sick about the human race .Making a joke out of Manchester, almost instantly, is a bad omen for other ominous times that, regrettably, still may be ahead.
The Internet is large and unorganized. But isn’t it time for its major pipeline masters to do their duty and chastise, ridicule, berate. . . and counsel the world’s ugly trollers with the mother of all public service announcements? Isn’t there a place for an Ad Council-like campaign? Or advertisers? Isn't there a way for Facebook and Twitter and YouTube to officially shake their fists? We’re all about pointing fingers at various “shamers” out there. Maybe it’s time for the Internet’s biggest players to forcefully dole some of it out.