Home Uncategorized 5 Mistakes People Make On Social Media During Tragedy

5 Mistakes People Make On Social Media During Tragedy

by Nellie


The Paris attacks are still fresh on everyone’s minds. Honestly, even though 9/11 was 14 years ago, it still lies fresh with me as if it happened a few hours ago. There have been so many acts of violence in the past decade it is truly enough to make your head spin.

When news breaks just as quickly as our hearts we tend to take to social media and share our feelings. Somehow, sharing our feelings turns into a lot of arguing, fighting and emotion. There are a few trends that I have noticed and they can be balled down to the following 5 things:

Blindly Blaming

When something terrible happens it is human nature to blame something or someone. Whether it’s big or small we all look to a group or a particular person to lay it all on. It gives us temporary relief and satisfaction. However, you have to be careful that you are not blaming people for the sake of blaming. Blaming an entire country, religion or color of people for an act that was committed doesn’t help any situation at all, and is often false.

Arguing over nonsense

When something horrible happens we all react in different ways. Some are sad and some are upset–all normal reactions. When we start arguing about how people should feel that is where it becomes a problem. I’ve seen it so many times where someone posts a status and people project their own angry feelings and before you know it there is a war of words and none of it is helpful to the original situation. People will always feel differently than you, arguing about it does nothing to help.

Re-sharing bad information

This one is a biggie. On Friday night when everything in Paris was unfolding I was commuting home from work. I had to depend on social media to get all of my info. That was a big mistake because the news on twitter and facebook was so conflicting that I really had no clue what was actually happening. There were so many retweets of what I realized later on was bad information. Always know your source and think twice before pressing the share button.

Comparing reactions

I think we have all realized that the media has a big say in what we see on the news. Dealing with one tragedy in one way does not make all others atrocities invalid. Do I wish that they would all the same coverage? Absolutely. But they won’t. We aren’t the ones that decide what is news. We can rehash old tragedies on a daily basis but don’t disrespect the current tragedy in the process. Whether we are in Baghdad, Paris, Kenya or NYC human lives are being lost at an astonishingly fast rate. Every life lost is equally as devastating.

Not independently thinking

As much as I love social media, the system is designed for you to think like everyone else. When 10 people share a link–you take notice. When a topic is trending because “everyone” is talking about it you automatically want to know why. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole and not know up from down, this is why I encourage you to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. It’s so important to know the history, background and motivation of why these things occur.

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Any more tips for social media etiquette?

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CARLA November 18, 2015 - 6:04 am

Yes all of that and then forgetting to yank scheduled tweets and posts.
Im neurotic 🙂 which is why I caiiint schedule stuff as I fear something like this happening and my forgetting to pull the posts.

Allie November 18, 2015 - 6:20 am

This is such a well written and thought out piece. This is exactly what happens and I wish people could be more self-aware. I tend to stay off social media for this very reason, although I did get the news from Twitter. I have to say that the same people have the same reactions to every touchy subject (politics, religion, tragedy) and I tend to just skip right over their posts!! The hardest part is getting accurate information and trying to not let the nonsense get to you. Well done Nellie!

Janine Huldie November 18, 2015 - 6:59 am

I honestly couldn’t agree more with you, Nellie and this is why I try to hold off on what I may say at first when stuff like this happens to try to get a bit more of the facts and background. I equate it with just using common sense and thinking before I speak or write my thoughts down in essence. Great advice and again very much agree.

Kimberly G November 18, 2015 - 8:25 am

Such a great post! I’ve been disgusted with some of the rhetoric I’ve seen on social media surrounding the Paris attacks.

kita November 18, 2015 - 8:39 am

When I heard about it I didn’t really know what was going on or the causes behind it. Of course I turned to social media but there were so many stories going around I thought I would wait a few days to get the more accurate stories. Glad I did. I have been known to rt the wrong thing in the past myself so I try to only do it from reputable news places…TMZ isn’t one of them…well actually they are because they always seem to know before anyone else does.

Tamara November 19, 2015 - 1:48 pm

Such a thoughtful piece. I usually stay silent right after a tragedy, just to process it and read and watch for more information. I may say I’m sad or thinking about it, but I won’t argue. Especially on Facebook! Shudder.
I see people fighting… and it’s like. this is why stuff like this is happening. We need to all come together, and not be pulled apart.

Leslie November 19, 2015 - 4:25 pm

Yes to all of this. I couldn’t stand seeing people use the tragedy for their own political/social agenda. Also agree with Carla that scheduled posts need to be yanked (though that’s much easier said than done)


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