Social media can be a great thing. But it can also be a big ol’ bitch bastard. People tend to want to be the one who says, “First”. I think that’s just human nature. Whether it be a celebrity death, a blockbuster sports trade or just about what happened on tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead. Some people get so caught up in being a news breaker, the fact of whether or not the news they’re breaking is accurate becomes secondary. That’s what happened immediately following the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
“Well I saw it on Facebook, and the thing said I should like it and share it unless I’m a terrorist myself. Which I’m obviously not. You’ve seen my tattoo. So I liked it and shared it So what if it’s really a photo of two high school kids from Revere just watching the marathon. They have backpacks and olive complexions, let’s ruin their fucking lives” – Somebody somewhere.
I saw one photo online of man outside a building and the caption said that it was a video still from a chemical warehouse in or around Boston. It urged people to keep an eye out for this man as he may have plans to carry out a chemical attack somewhere in the city. Multiple people I know shared the photo on the big book of faces. It turns out that it was a photo taken in London 5 years ago. But that natural urge to be first takes over, and people spread the lie.
I saw another photo of a shadowy figure on a roof. People want to know why was there a person on a roof. All of a sudden, there’s a conspiracy theory about a figure on the roof. Now it’s no longer just a roof, it’s become a grassy knoll.
Of course this isn’t taking into account that in the city, a roof is like a yard. People go out there for a variety of reasons. One of which is to smoke pot. Another is to watch the Boston Marathon. A third is to smoke pot while watching the Boston Marathon. Even another reason is that some people like to make sweet love to their ladies or gentlemen on rooftops, either solo or in tandem, while smoking pot and watching the Boston Marathon. There is a veritable litany of different reasons as to why someone would be on a roof in the city. But at least ninety-four percent of them include the smoking of the reefer weeds.
Two days after the bombing, CNN falsely reported that there had been an arrest made in the case. People started gathering in front of the Moakley Federal Courthouse, for some reason. Apparently they expected the police to pull up out front and walk the suspect(s) through the crowd where everyone could take a shot at them Jack Ruby style. The police certainly wouldn’t think to do something tricky like slap a fake moustache and an eye patch on them and bring them in through the back door.
One local station kept cutting away to their reporter in front of the courthouse who would find a new way to say the same thing, which was nothing. One exchange in particular that I enjoyed went something like this:
News Anchor: “We now go live to the Moakley Courthouse where our intrepid reporter anxiously awaits to bring us the latest on this breaking news story”
Intrepid Reporter (quickly looking up from her iPhone): “The police have asked us to move across the street from the courthouse. The crowd has swollen to a few hundred people and I can’t really see anything at all, but I think that a white car is driving by the building right now.” Right then, a white car drove by the building. That’s top-notch reporting right there.
Thursday April 18th 2013, the FBI finally released photos and video of the actual suspects and asked for the publics help in identifying them. Which they did. But that was after all of the other pictures of “suspects” had already been circulated ad nauseam.
That night the two suspects (now and forever known as Black Hat and White Hat, because fuck them) killed a police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He was Officer Sean Collier and his name deserves to be remembered, not theirs.
Then they carjacked a guy and got into a firefight with police. Black Hat was killed, supposedly from being run over by White Hat when he fled the shootout.
The city and surrounding communities were put on lockdown Friday April 19th 2013 while every single law enforcement official in the USA (it seemed) searched for White Hat. Businesses were closed. There were no trains, buses or cabs to be had anywhere. There were virtually no cars in the streets or pedestrians on the sidewalks. It was eerie, like a scene out of the movie “I Am Legend”. Except Will Smith was replaced with Mark Wahlberg and they called it “I’m Fuckin’ Legend, Kid”.
They finally found him hiding in a boat in a back yard. Helicopters used infrared cameras to pick up White Hats heat signature. The tactical teams used flash bang grenades as they moved in to apprehend him. I sat glued in front of my television that day, as I assume everyone in the world did. I could be wrong. We do like to refer to ourselves as the “Hub of the Universe” in Boston, but I realize that other people have shit going on elsewhere. Like jobs, or whatever. But it really made for some riveting television.
I would compare it to the OJ Simpson Bronco chase just on the sheer, “I can’t believe that we’re actually watching this happen” aspect of the whole thing. It will be remembered for a long time, and referred to in conversations that begin with, “Where were you when?”.
I just hope when they make the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio plays me.
Or I play him.
Leonardo isn’t pretty enough to play you, Bill.
I agree that it’s sad that we remember the perps and the hooplah rather than the victims. That’s human nature, though. I remember being on the road the day back in 1994 when OJ went on his famous White Bronco Run, and all the freeways were jammed. I remember being more upset about the inconvenience than the loss to the world of Nicole Simpson (I think that was her name) and Ron Goldman. In retrospect, I’m not sure I was too far off-base.
Thanks Smak! I keep telling Leo that, but he thinks I’m kidding.
Great post Bill. I love when you go all Boston on me… that said, it’s so true: on TV, on social media… in blogging (which is where my head went when I saw your post), that people love to be the first to share a big story. I am working on something similar… but very different. I may have to link to this. When I get crazy ass stuff on line, I always try to check Snopes.com… every time I don’t, I end up looking like a fool! Wicked good writing my friend.
Thanks Dawn. This is from last year. I had written it for The Outlier Collective, but now that it’s gone offline I wanted to put it up here. Snopes.com is your friend, my friend.
Ouch. I hadn’t thought of that… I had a TOC piece too. I think I posted it on my blog too though… if not, I hope no one’s wondering what the most seminal even in history effected me most. 😉
Luckily I wrote it all on my page, copy and pasted and then published it there, so I still had the post in my drafts.
Given the circumstances… lucky indeed!
We are a crazy f’d up world – I am waiting for the end of cellphones so that not everything will be made into a video or have a picture taken of it… will my hopes come to fruition????
Hahaha, they will. It’s called the Apocalypse.
YEAH! Can I request a vampire as opposed to zombie apocalypse?
Oh, I don’t think they let you choose.
I heard you have connections….
If so, I’m choosing a Smurf Apocalypse. I can take those fuckers.
Really? Even Papa Smurf???
Hahaha, that’s pretty cool. I’d still kick his smurfin’ ass though.
I hope to see that on PRIME TIME!
Finally – another post! Where ya been?
The world died when they made cells with phones and videos. everything is recordable instantly. Scary.
Thanks Samara. This is actually an old post that I wrote for The Outlier Collective last year. Thanks for reading it!
That OJ Bronco chase was awesome in part because it happened on my birthday but mostly because my husband and I had just gotten back from stuffing the shit out of ourselves at a fondue place and washing down every last cheese covered apple, or bread stick, or summer sausage or whatever with a cocktail. When we got home and turned on our cable box after puking in the alley outside our apartment, every single channel was showing the chase. We watched, for like, hours because we lived in Chicago at the time and even though it was dark there it’s always light in L.A. because everyone is operating on a different planet that has something to do with Tom Cruise. Anyway, thanks for the memories Bill. =)
My favorite part of this comment is that you talked about a white Bronco and it wasn’t named Peyton Manning. Good luck in the Super Bowl. I hope you guys kick Seattle’s ass. I also hope NJ gets hit with a blizzard for three straight days beforehand. Snowy Super Bowl? What could be better. Am I right?
Son of a bitch. I’ll get you.