My first reaction to the fact that Osama Bin Laden had been killed was one of disbelief. Then, one of relief. Then, one of elation. My husband was sleeping at that point, so I sat there alone, figuring out what this all means. I decided to wake him up to tell him the news. With a grunt, he checked his phone, said “good,” and went back to sleep (he had much more to say on the topic the next morning).
As I alternated between Twitter, Facebook, and Cnn.com, I saw reports of people celebrating in front of the White House and around the world. Part of me wanted to join them.
But, there was this nagging feeling… was this really the way I should be feeling?
The next morning, most of the posts I saw were celebratory. There was one that got my attention. Someone had posted something supposedly written by Martin Luther King Jr. and it made an awful lot of sense in context. It made me take a step back and really think about what has happened and what my true feelings are on what happened.
Here it is:
“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.”
The post itself went viral — I ended up seeing it several times throughout the day.
Then, I saw this post on Mashable:
This morning however, the Detroit Free Press reported that the first sentence the part referencing thousands supposedly comes from Twitter user Jessica Dovey, who tweeted this morning at Jillette: I am the original author of the MLK quote. On Monday, a quote supposedly penned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was… – Source
It turns out that it was a mashup of an original quote from Tweeter Jessica Dovey and the MLK quote made by Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller.
There are a few lessons to be learned here.
1. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment
2. You never know what will go viral online and what people will take as gospel
3. Sometimes, all that matters is that a very important message was heard. How many other people saw that and were able to reflect and take a step back?
Social media helped to break this story and it has helped us weigh the issue, and our own feelings, from every angle. So, even though social media got this one “wrong” I am still in awe of it.