It's is one thing to commemorate the death of an influential person on Twitter by posting your condolences and tweeting your love for a late celebrity with others who share that appreciation. Sure, tweeting is a more futuristic way of paying tribute to an idol, but with advances in technology we've accepted the fact that customs in the 21st century have changed significantly since previous years and generations. But, what happens when the late celebrity about whom you're tweeting your sorrows isn't in fact deceased? And why would anyone start such a sick hoax?
Beginning Sunday morning at about 11:00 am, R.I.P. Rowan Atkinson
, commonly known as Mr. Bean, was trending on a worldwide scale, leading many of his fans to believe that he is dead and leaving others to outrage about the disrespect that goes along with "killing" an icon on the micro-blogging social networking site, Twitter.
Initially, most of the tweets with the hash tag "R.I.P. Rowan Atkinson" were memorial tweets, but it was soon revealed that this trend was merely a hoax and Twitter users began tweeting things like "#ThingsPeopleNeedToStopDoing Spreading rumors that Rowan Atkinson is dead." Readers quickly realized that he is indeed alive but the trending doesn't stop there. Now that people realize it's a hoax, that's just another thing to tweet about, so "R.I.P. Rowan Atkinson" will be trending for an even longer amount of time now.
Justin Bieber, outraged by the "killing" of Mr. Bean, tweeted "R.I.P. Rowan Atkinson: Stop joking. Remember he's Mr. Bean'who was a part of your childhood and grew up with you. RT to show your respect." This tweet was reposted over 11,000 times within two hours of "R.I.P. Rowan Atkinson" trending.
The person responsible for creating this hash tag says he didn't expect it to trend that quickly and it was "just a joke." A very bad joke. But, an even worse joke presented itself on Twitter by @Unnamedinsider who tweeted "R.I.P. Rowan Atkinson is trending?! That's as crazy as that R.I.P. Whitney Houston hoax last week."
In case it isn't disrespectful enough to create the viral death of a man who made generations laugh without ever saying a word, it is even more disgusting to see that people think it is okay to joke about Whitney Houston's passing. The term "Rest In Peace" was originated to pay respect to those who have passed away, wishing them all the best for the rest of eternity, but to take that phrase and attach it to a joke mocking one's death is beyond cruel.
What is even more interesting about this hoax is what it says about humanity. Whenever Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, comes up in a conversation, at least one person will comment on how "unreliable" it is as a source and how it should never be used for anything important such as homework assignments. Yet, the minute something appears on Twitter, something much more "entertaining" and "interesting" than homework such as the death of a famous individual, it is immediately believed to be true by just about everyone who reads it. So, as human beings, are we attracted to drama?
Judging by the number of reality series on television and the way media agencies decide what is "newsworthy" and what isn't, I would say yes, human beings love to be dramatic. What makes a story "newsworthy" today is based on what the consumer, or the audience, finds interesting. Sadly, people are more likely to tune in to their local news cast when they hear the headline "Thousands Killed in Syrian Shelling" rather than "Kitten Saved from Tree by Local Fire Rescue." The reason for this isn't because the audience wishes to find out how they can help those suffering in Syria, but it is because they are more interested in the gruesome massacre rather than the uplifting and inspiring story of the little kitten being rescued.
I'm not sure what to say about humanity's fascination with Twitter "deaths," disrespect towards human life, horrible reality shows, love for drama, and bad news, other than #21stCenturyProblems. Why wasn't I born in the 70s again?