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No news is terrible news: Twitter’s insane reaction to New York “attack”

No news is terrible news: Twitter’s insane reaction to New York “attack”

Thursday 22 September, 2016
The attack in New York was deliberate, but it wasn’t terrorism. We knew little else, so the Twittersphere just filled in the gaps. Yesterday, violence again walked the streets of New York, as explosive nostalgia woke those in the city that never sleeps. On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, everything old was new again. An […]
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The attack in New York was deliberate, but it wasn’t terrorism. We knew little else, so the Twittersphere just filled in the gaps.

Yesterday, violence again walked the streets of New York, as explosive nostalgia woke those in the city that never sleeps. On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, everything old was new again. An explosion rocked the suburb of Chelsea, injuring a spate of innocent bystanders. The devices were deliberately set, and terrorism was here once more. Or, was it? Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, called the attacks intentional but mentioned that it certainly, absolutely was not terrorism; which turned to be the genesis comment to loose the Kraken, blinded by its own insistence that it was summoned, and therefore, correct.

What was immediately known is that among the figure (which varied), no-one was killed. But with a lack of news from reputable outlets on anything further and most outlets sticking to the facts (i.e., that they knew nothing), the Internet – particularly Twitter – took over, constructing its own narrative in large barely legible script, carved along on the walls in the crayon of alarmist red.

Hillary Clinton, via the fuselage of her jet, decided to get America, in the words of Samuel L Jackson, to “chill”:

The Internet:

So, knowing nothing quickly became being told nothing, as the space where the facts would sit became filled, with assumptions; comments made with the gut, not with the head; the safety of the truth absent, vast jangling insanity jumping on its rocket sled and powering long into the night sky.

I suppose the question you’re asking is why give air time to these crazies? Well, for the most part (and those who gain the most re-Tweets), those who show empathy, or indeed sense, are the supported minority:

This controlling of the narrative and vast hateful guesswork seems to be a long step forward from the galling violence of ’15, and for which I’m referencing another symphony of violence that echoed on Twitter, Paris. Now, those attacks, particularly Bataclan was lived out in our feed. We were kept appraised of the humanitarian efforts of civilians shielding perfect strangers, offering sanctuary via the hashtag #PorteOuverte, as the survivors, or those with a less certain outcome, brutally Tweeting the situation as the horror unfolded. We knew little, but we were united in feeling. From the pale vision, and more accurately our fear, grew great empathy. Hashtags and collective changing of Profile Pictures became the avenues of expressing our hope that we would be able to rise above those who speak the language of violence. New York was different to Paris, as no lives were lost, true, but access to the moment it was the same. The CCTV imagery of the explosion was freely available and distributed, but enabled no empathetic feeling, it just ratched up the cray, and swinging the most gallows of humours.

This sort of misdirected, tangled verbal exchange is not new in the land of the Internet, in fact, it makes the foundation of the rickety house that biased opinion built. However, with a lack of an official story, and as of 9pm AEST, +13 hours from the incident, the problem becomes that the unofficial truth becomes the official in the realms those who espouse it. Regardless of the actual facts, whatever they may be upon their arrival, will not change the minds already made up – and in the important year that this is, the fact that an election may be swung on act turned relevant by pure speculation is indeed troubling.

 

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