It seems a slightly morbid tone for the start of the year. Last night  Tom Doorley tweeted his condolences to Derry and Sally Ann Clarke on the tragic death of their 16 year old son.

His tweet was greeted with some some critical replies together with many other people tweeting their own condolences. Those critical thought the tweet or the medium and the context inappropriate.

 

It felt odd on New Years Eve to be hearing of a personal family tragedy via twitter.  It shouldn’t at this point. Having spent most of the past three years working with Storyful nothing with social media should surprise me. I remember how the news of Gerry Ryans death spread on twitter almost three years ago. And the stark relief that was thrown up between the protocols of traditional media – we know, but we need two sources including the family to confirm – and that of new media.

Last night’s tweet and the replies led to an interesting conversation. What should you post online and where should you post it. Should pictures of kids be posted on twitter or privately to Facebook? And is anything on Facebook really private anyway ?

I fall back to the old adage that you shouldn’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want appearing on the front page of the New York Times (of course with the paywall there it might be safer  in the New York Times than on Facebook).  The general principle holds. If you you’d ever regret if something was public don’t post it on anywhere online. It doesn’t matter what the terms and conditions say.  Even Mark Zuckerberg’s sister gets caught out by the privacy settings on Facebook.

Snapchat and Facebook’s clone (Poke) are apps that attempt to avoid “the Internet never forgets” problem by only holding images for a short period and then deleting it.We know that this will work perfectly because no one can use screen capture or cameras any longer.

Over 50 years ago Einstein said that “our technology has exceeded our humanity.” What we’re faced with now is that our technical capability has outraced than our cultural capability. We are still learning and negotiating new cultural norms. We’re still figuring out our reactions to what people tweet. And even today the personal nature of what people tweet surprises me.

Our reactions to Facebook. The very deep issues with Cyberbullying, the question over the copyright over our Instagram photos are aspects of this problem. First we shape our tools and then they shape us. Life and death and twitter. We will figure it out.