Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Boston Massacre: The best and worst of social media

If an Oscar were handed out for best director of the Boston massacre it would not be handed to the terrorists at its epicentre.
Nor would it be given to media who lined the streets of Boston and Watertown, presenting us with every morsel of truth or untruth.
It wouldn't even be given to first responders who risked life and limb to take down the Brothers Tsarnaev.
Nope. If there were an Oscar given for best director, it would be handed to the Internet which influenced absolutely every part of this horrible passion play.
It all began with Tamerlan's web flirtation with terror and extremism. The Internet was the place he met and bonded with terror. It was the place he became a home cook, with recipes made from ball bearings and nails, all concocted in a pressure cooker the way Martha Stewart might make a pot roast.
Once the horrible pot was stirred, and the bombs dropped, the World Wide Web spread the news of the unthinkable horror, with ghastly pictures of men, women and children, blown apart like pinatas on Cinco de Mayo.
It was the Internet, and its sister in crime, social media, that also quickly shared pictures of the culprits with classmates and far flung relatives in Chechnya, New York and Toronto. Wrestling buddies got to reminisce on Facebook about the leadership and wrestling abilities of Dzhokhar. Relatives got to issue denials.
For the first time since the assasination of Kennedy, television became a bit player in this melodrama. CNN reporters found it difficult to keep up with Twitter, where Joe Average got better information. Special agents had to contend with leakage that would have sunk the Titanic as well as the prying eyes of amateur sleuths with smart phones, wannabe celebs looking for their 15 minutes.
There was a whole lot of bad and ugly on the Internet.
But in the end, the Internet redeemed herself. Where it not for instant communications, the Brothers Tsarnaev would still, no doubt be at large.
Tsarnaev the younger was ultimately caught by social media.
And he will be tried there, too.
Welcome the new world, warts and all.

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