On Monday night, a suspected suicide explosion following an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England resulted in at least 19 confirmed fatalities. At least 50 others were injured, and police are investigating the blast as a possible terrorist attack. Yet, social media is social media. Which means that, although there are already tons of people using Twitter for good tonight, there are also tasteless Ariana Grande concert explosion jokes making their way around. And it's really not OK at all.
UPDATE: BBC reported at 11:40 a.m. local time Tuesday that 22 people have been confirmed dead and 59 injured in the Manchester Arena explosion.
UPDATE: In a tweet on Monday night, Grande responded to the attack, writing, "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words."
There's just no place for that sort of joking. It's not being "too politically correct," it's offensive. Especially since there are possibly more fatalities and injuries, and given the demographic of Ariana Grande's fan base, a lot of them are children. There are parents who sent young kids to a concert with a neighbor or school friend and aren't sure where they are right now. Given that the Manchester Arena is right next to the Victoria Railway Station, there are fewer options for people from outside of Manchester to get into the city to meet their loved ones, since the station was evacuated and shut down in the aftermath.
Police are investigating the explosions as terrorism until they learn otherwise, according to a statement from the Greater Manchester Police. So, yeah, it's "too soon" for jokes about the quality of Grande's music or the power of that orb Donald Trump visited this weekend.
Yuck, right? It's amazing how people can disconnect in a tragedy and not think about the effects of their words. Sure, the definition of comedy is the perfect mix of tragedy and timing. But right now, the timing is very, very off. Actually, this is one of those events for which there will never be a right time to laugh at a bunch of young people and their guardians.
It happens all the time, though. For some people, jokes during a tragedy are a coping mechanism. That sort of makes sense — humans have a desire to make sense of the world. So if we can control and event by laughing at it, it helps process things. But our culture might be way too used to just "laughing things off."
Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos told the BBC that she's worried about desensitization in the wake of tragedies like this one:
One of the reasons we laugh at tragedy is that it makes the enormity of the issue easier to deal with. But we do live in a society where tragedy has become something that we've become conditioned to laugh at.
Like tweeting about explosions going off at a pop concert. Hopefully, people will realize that their jokes about the tragedy aren't what people need right now and send some love instead.