No time to grieve – the death of Michael Jackson on Twitter

When the Princess of Wales died I discovered this as I woke to the morning news.  When John F.  Kennedy died many discovered via the morning newspaper. When Michael Jackson died I discovered it via my Twitter feed.

In a Twitter world can family and friends have any time to grieve? In pass years the pressure of 24 TV news has made it increasingly difficult to delay the making of deeply personal announcement of a death by family and friends. Previously news channels would have speculated and had the helicopter flying over the home or hospital but in the age where gossip can travel around the world and back again in seconds the momentum of the speculation is now unstoppable.

At the time of Michael Jacksons death 15% of Tweets on Twitter were relating to the speculation over his death. Such was the demand for information Twitter became overloaded. Facebook status updates were dominated by the news along with bookmarking sites being bombarded by links to news pages about his death. Within minutes of confirmation of his death Michael Jackson’s Wikipedia page was updated.

Now any hospital worker; doctor, nurse or cleaner could break the news via social networks and controlling this is almost impossible. Even close family cannot be protected as those at the bedside dealing with their loss may not have had time to get in contact with those who are close.

Hospitals, Police and other emergency services (if they have not already) will need to tighten polices regarding the sharing of information together with providing support to the bereaved families who have lost the control of how they break the news.

We all  need to question our own behaviour which seems similar to the traffic slowing at the scene of an accident.

In a world where everyone wants to be the first to break the news, could you be dead on Twitter before you actually stop breathing?

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