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When Social Sharing Becomes Bigger Than the Event

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I keep thinking about Paul Walker.  His death is incredibly sad:  too soon, too young, too tragic.  But his passing has made me think of another passing – that of Princess Di more than 16 years ago. I look at the memorial for Mr. Walker and think it is growing at a speed that is close to that of the People’s Princess.

Mr. Walker was a talented actor with his participation in the Fast & Furious franchise (aside:  is it coincidental that Universal was planning the DVD release of the 6th episode of the Fast & Furious this week and it happened to coincide with his untimely death?).  He had a charity and there are numerous reports of his charitable acts and kindness.  However, what strikes me is that the outpouring seems out of perspective for his fame.

So what is the difference between the 1997 death of the Princess of Wales and the 2013 death of a handsome young actor?  Clearly social media and instant access to information has to play a role.  With Lady Di, I remember sitting transfixed throughout the night pining for news and information on the crash, the alleged paparazzi’s role, the Queen’s reaction, the tragic loss of their mother by 2 young princes.  The only source of information:  TV.

Fast forward to 2013 where news and information is instantaneous, on demand, and user-generated.  Everyone has a story, a perspective, and information to share.  And share they do. Private mourning has been replaced by Facebook posts, YouTube videos with 25 million views (and counting), Tweets, Instagram and SnapChat posts.  The fans have become the reporters.  It is an interesting phenomenon.  And it makes me wonder if the outpouring is out of proportion to the event.

What are your thoughts?  Has this tragic event become too public?  Does it detract from the tragic loss of a life?  Has the event become the memorial rather than the passing?  Where do we go from here?

About Barbara Palmer

While she has always longed to hold the title Manager of Time and Space, today she is the President of The Search Agency. Joining TSA with an entertainment and technology marketing background, Barbara describes her current position as “running the house”. Client Service areas including SEO, SEM, Feeds, Display, Conversion Path Optimization, Strategic Programs and Integrated Marketing Solutions report up to her – although she leaves the heavy lifting to the experts in each discipline.