Tragic accidents on the field of sport in social media times

One of the things that came out of the attack in London on the Westminster Bridge on Wednesday, March 22, was the tweet by London Metropolitan police asking people to use common sense and restraint in circulating photos and videos of the victims. It sure would have been disrespectful to the victims and their loved ones.

Another incident, this time a funeral of a celebrity parent and the grieving celebrity (Aishwarya Rai Bachhan, ex-miss World, model and actor) were in circulation. Another celebrity sibling took to social media to condemn this. She requested general public to not click and watch the photos. 

On the heels of these two events, one more, sadly followed.  There was no loss of life involved here but tragic nonetheless. While watching the Ireland-Wales FIFA World Cup qualifier on Friday, March 24, during the second half of the match Ireland captain, Seamus Coleman got injured. It was a bad tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor. The injury was serious.  As is the case with such incidents being replayed while watching on live TV, it was a surprise when the commentator announced that out of respect and considering the grievous nature of the injury they would not show the replays.  To me, this was the most responsible and respectful response on the part of the network. 

I appreciated the network’s stance not to replay Coleman’s injury incident.  However, the network not showing it did not mean that I won’t be shown elsewhere.  I saw Coleman trending on Twitter.  The videos and photos of that tackle by Taylor on Coleman was all over the social media. No, I didn’t click on any of it and decided to move away from that page. But that was my choice.  Just like it was the choice of many to share the videos and photos. Just like many to click and watch those videos and/or photos of that horrible incident. 

That made me wonder why do we have to record someone’s pain and grief? Why do we chose to watch that content, and especially if it involves a public figure/a celebrity? We live in the times where clicking photos and recording videos/audios are just a tap on handheld devices. I wonder what are we thinking when we record such incidents. And then go and share it on social media platforms. Why does someone’s grief become so palatable?  What makes us so insensitive to someone in pain that we actually want to see it?  For a moment, if we pause and imagine ourselves in that person’s shoes, would we liked to be recorded/photographed in our most vulnerable moment?  I believe the answer would be a safe no, at least for majority of us. 

So how do we stop this? And whether it is even possible to stop it?  Again, it is safe to say that to eradicate this issue is going to be next to impossible. Unless we show some self-restrain ourselves. Would education and awareness around this issue help? Probably.  Maybe introduce the dos and don’ts of social media specifically focusing on the subject of tragic incidents, grief and pain. This education should be for all – for children in school, for students in Universities and for employees at their work places.

While on road, if the intention to record is to gather evidence then by all means record/click photos but then hand it over to the authorities and refrain from sharing it on social media. For all those accidents on the field of sport, let those replays remain away from the fans and into the hands of investigative agencies. So that they can look at accidents in depth and arrive at conclusions to make the sport in question safe for its future participants.  

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