I’ve written a rather challenging piece for Crikey today, Twitter: enabling the new global rubberneckers. Challenging to write, and maybe challenging to read.
I was disturbed on the weekend to see Twitter become some kind of morbid deathwatch. As every increment in the Victorian bushfire death tool was reported, it was retweeted and retweeted endlessly — even once the mainstream media had geared up and was providing live updates.
For people threatened by bushfires, or those concerned for the safety of loved ones, up-to-date news is vital. No argument. We also need to share our emotions as a community — that’s what makes us a community. It was heart-rending to see one 17 year-old tweet (and I won’t link), “Just got told that a few friends who live in the bushfire area haven’t been found yet. Where’s a tissue, I have a tear in my eye.”
But for everyone else, obsessively tracking every latest horror “to see what it looks like” is nothing but selfish “recreational grief”. The morbid rubbernecking so hated by police and emergency workers.
The article isn’t behind the paywall, so it’s free for all to read.