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In tragic times, show social media restraint

August 30, 2018

The “think before you speak’’ philosophy is nothing new, but it has taken on an even deeper meaning in today’s social media centered world.

These days, blurting out whatever comes to the top of your head is not limited to verbal communication. You now can do essentially the same thing on Facebook, Twitter or personal text. Either way you choose, it often can have unpleasant ramifications.

The recent shooting death of 8-year-old Kankakee boy Jeremiah J. Wilson stands as a poignant example. The tragedy took place Sunday afternoon, and within hours and even minutes after it happened, all kinds of information and rumors regarding the incident spread through social media circles.

Kankakee schools Superintendent Genevra Walters addressed the situation during Monday’s Board of Education meeting. She urged people to show respect for the family of the victims by refraining from making instant comments on the death. She expressed doubt anyone would want to learn of a tragedy regarding their family through social media.

We concur with Walters’ thoughts. There is an urge to be the first one to break a story, and newspaper professionals surely understand that urge.

But all of us must take pause to collect the facts before making such reports. There is a reason coroner’s offices decline to release the name of a deceased person until their family is notified.

It’s called respect, or common decency. Remember this the next time something awful happens.

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