Trending off Tragedy


This widely circulated post made its way around Twitter and Facebook yesterday. It made people feel good, it was a lesson in morality. It got 11,000 shares in 11 hours on Facebook, and close to 5,000 RTs on Twitter.

And it’s totally fake.

Never mind that the story pictured above uses long block quotes, indicating the authors incredible memory — but I’m curious as to how she can ID a Romanian or a Gay man on the F Train. Did she ask them? It isn’t mentioned. Most surprising of all is that if this belligerent man did board an F Train, nobody would acknowledge him. New Yorkers encounter crazy and belligerent people all the time and make a habit of ignoring them out of concern for their own safety. I’d know, I’m writing this post from an F Train right now. Nobody would stop a train for this mans behavior.

So? What’s the big deal if it’s fake, it made people feel good.

It is a big deal for the intention of the post and posts like it. The author wanted to insert themselves into the headlines.

When people write these fake stories or create these fake memes, they’re deliberately taking advantage of a tragedy in the headlines to make their post trend. More specifically, they’re trying to make themselves trend.

As the post went viral, the author on Facebook relished in the attention from friends and family — “you’re famous” “remember us when you make it big.” She even had a fan girl moment on Twitter as MSNBC journalist Chris Hayes retweeted the screenshot of her post.

This is narcissism. If the first thing you think of after a tragedy is how to write a Facebook status or tweet that will garner attention, you’re everything that is wrong with social media.

Instead of sharing fake stories written on behalf of someone craving attention, how about sharing real feel good stories?

There are countless examples of people coming together after the horrific tragedy in Orlando to take a stand against hate. We don’t need to share fake stories when there are real profiles in courage to share and celebrate.

So think before you share a story that is obviously fake, whether it made you feel good or not. We shouldn’t be enabling someone’s narcissism. This isn’t the first fake post to trend off tragedy and it won’t be the last. But let’s make it the last time we share it.


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