Tragedies always bring out the extremes in humanity. Wherever the darkness creeps, you'll also find extraordinary flashes of greatness. This is true no matter the medium: Real life, television, the written word, social media.
The horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon revealed the very dark side of a social media practice known as "newsjacking," or the process by which you inject your own ideas into a stream of breaking news to get publicity for yourself.
In the past, we've hailed companies for their ability to seize such opportunities. Oreo pulled off a whopper when they quickly created a graphic
reassuring people "you can still dunk in the dark" during the half-hour blackout during Super Bowl XLVII.
But this post by Sam Fiorella
rightfully scolds the ignorant, self-serving tactics of one Erik Rush, who used the Boston Marathon tragedy as an opportunity to stir up hate and speculation with belligerent tweets about killing Muslims.
We could ask why such garbage is allowed to permeate the conversation. Or, we could remember that as human beings, we need to accept that some of us are bad.
Social media allow us to see this like never before. I know we've belabored the novelty of social media in situations like these. But in the wake of yesterday's tragedy, it's worth it once again to note the way social media can bring anyone into the ongoing battle between good and evil. Just as often as we bemoan the Erik Rushes of the world, we lift up the selfless acts of those who are good at heart, much more frequently and with more fanfare than we ever could without social media.
We're also reminded that, in the words of Patton Oswalt
, "We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil."
Our hearts go out to all those affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy, and to all the runners who will stride on despite the risks, real or perceived.