Social Media, a wedding, a death, and how we see what we want to see

The girl married her Prince. The bad guy is dead. It’s a real Disney weekend here on Earth.- Twitter

“But it remains to be seen whether the Windsors’ presumption that commoners will be happy to eat their sausage rolls in the streets while an élite of six hundred parties at Buckingham Palace is a nostalgic one.” New Yorker
In the last few days the nation got to indulge in two major world events: one, a royal wedding, the second, the death of the most wanted man in the world. Both, however, triggered similar sentiments: patriotism, flag waving, community gathering of groups, celebration, secrecy, and… social media overload.

I’ll admit, I was guilty of hours of mind numbing television, oohing an ahhing over the dress, the romance, the fascinators (like so). What can I say, I like weddings…But as I imagined the costs accumulating with every flower, horse, silver spoon, and stich on the gorgeous gown I thought: what are we are celebrating? The outdated idea of a monarch? Are we celebrating money? Fame? Celebrities? The dream that maybe one day we too can be swept away and be a princess? Was it really not just a wedding, but an opportunity to turn our heads from our small apartments, boring wardrobe, and dateless Friday nights to something so shiny, so pretty, so fairytale like- something that feels so good?

And they lived happily ever after....


Thanks Susan for this visual


The second event, the secret mission to get “code name Geronimo” (is that offensive or what?) was a little different to me. Indeed, I was glued to the TV again, twittering away. But this time some Americans, like Brits a few days before them, felt the urge to take to the street in red white and blue. Celebrating OBL’s death is perhaps not so far removed from the royal wedding- from a spectators viewpoint…In fact it could be  the ending to the same fairytale… as someone on twitter put it: Ding dong the witch is dead. Perhaps some believed that justice could only come from death, that with the main bad guy dead- the “terrorists” had no chance. Again, the nation closed their eyes to the implications (10 years of war, government secrets, bypassing democratic law/Geneva convention) and celebrated something that made them feel so good.

Interestingly enough, the two events started competing for social media space.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

It was on. It was like a competition! Like these tweets/facebook updates from friends and strangers show:
Twitter: Wait a minute! Royal Wedding I’m really happy for you and … I’ma let you finish, but Osama getting dead is the best news ever. #Kanye #Osama

Facebook: Britons, take note: this is what taking to the streets with flag-waving pride looks like!

Ah yes, nothing like some good old fashioned competition with the motherland (jk).
Which bring me to this imaginary MLK quote that was reposted hundreds of times in the days after Osama Bin Laden was killed.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

One of my friends had posted the MLK quote and one of her friends responded to it “This is exactly what I’ve been trying to say.” It almost doesn’t matter that MLK never said this… because it’s what some people really felt…Maybe we don’t have enough faith in ourselves to go against the herd mentality and need someone with power, someone who is known to be smart, and eloquent to say things for us.
Maybe we invent a reality for ourselves, a reality picked straight from teh nostaligia of our childhood beliefs about good and evil, about love, about heroes and heroines, about community and country, about a commoner turning into a princess, and a bad guy killed by the good guys.


2 thoughts on “Social Media, a wedding, a death, and how we see what we want to see

  1. Nice one Val. I do love the MLK quote, even if it’s fake!
    Several points:

    1) BBC broadcast the videos of college kids in the streets chanting ‘USA, USA, USA!’ and managed not to comment on it – I don’t know if there was any commentary on this over there, but it looked like a tailgating party, honestly. It reminded me of when US troops toppled the Saddam statue and put up an American flag… I’d say with all the flack video games get as bad influences for children, that might be the only one that really irritates me – simplifying every situation into ‘I am the good guy and I have to shoot the bad guy to win this level.’

    2) Abbreviating Osama bin Laden to OBL makes him sound like a rapper (teehee)

    3) If anyone reminds me of the Wicked Witch it’s Victoria Beckham in that god-awful fascinator, backed up by the ugly stepsisters Eugenie and Beatrice!! Honestly I imagined those two curling each others hair before the wedding and cackling about how the skinny bitch didn’t deserve it and would one day get her come-uppance!

    xx love

  2. Thanks for that lovelye visual on Eugenie and Beatrice– it would have been an excellent point for the Disneyfication of current events… Thanks for leaving such a good comment 🙂 LOVE YOU.

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