Can An Instagram Comment Result In The (Minor) Bombing Of A Marine Reserve?
The questionable state of power and rage fueled by social media.
Our society has taken a strange, gradual turn to treating social media as national news, and in turn, inciting public outrage. See: Donald Trump’s Twitter feed… As a result, serious repercussions come from a simple post or comment. To be an influencer in our digital age means every move made online is public domain and therefore up for interpretation. While social media can serve as an outlet for good cause, like #JeSuisCharlie after the slaughtering of 12 staffers following the Charlie Hebdo shooting (long live free speech), #PrayForOrlando backing the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, and more recent incidents. They can occasionally come off as ploys for social media attention, supporting a cause not just because one believes in it, but for likes, to boost followings and so on. With that said, there’s no problem in raising awareness à la social media–it’s the product of the rigid, volatile world we are living in.
As the shark problem in Reunion refuses to settle, it came as a surprise yesterday while reading the letter penned by Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd, that following Kelly Slater’s Instagram comment on Jeremy Flores’ post, violence ignited in Reunion. And that single comment by Kelly calling for a more regulated shark culling program on Reunion Island due to the staggering amount of fatalities is still making headlines. It’s the follow-up story that refuses to trickle out.
In the letter, Mr Watson stated, “I don’t think Kelly anticipated his words would ignite violence in Reunion Island or that the next day would see a fire bomb attack on the Marine Reserve.” The latter half of that sentence startled us. There had been no coverage of such attack on any of our prevailing media, we wondered if it was dramatic wording due to the death threats, and anger brought about by another tragedy in the waters of the French Republic. We contacted Paul; he connected us with the Sea Shepherd France, who provided reports of the attack.
Last Friday, in Reunion, it was reported, “Early this morning, five Molotov cocktails were thrown into the Marine Reserve, slightly degrading a vehicle, and a tag was also written on the wall of the establishment.”
“On the walls, the inscriptions ‘Assassins Krapo’ were discovered, referring to the nickname of Alexandre Naussac, the bodyboarder who lost his life after a shark attack at the mouth of the Rivière du Mât Tuesday, February 21. The family condemned these acts on social networks. ‘Do not associate my son Alexandre to this kind of behaviour,’ his mother wrote. ‘We do not want Alex’s death to be used to justify this or that act, he was fully aware of the risks he was taking,’ added his brother.”
This isn’t the first time the word “assassin” has been tagged on Marine Reserve signs in Reunion. In 2013, where the Marine Reserve filed a complaint against a young graphic designer, who had posted on the internet calling it “band assassin”, in reference to the history of shark attacks. In 2012, nearly 100 people gathered outside the Marine Reserve headquarters following an attack at Saint Leu, people attempted to enter the premises.
One of the reports states, “Kelly Slater does not demand a mass slaughter of all sharks but a consisted regulation of the most dangerous sharks in Reunion, such as the bull shark.” Indirectly noting his comment on Jeremy Flores’ post, which was amplified by a subsequent post on his page, highlighting his comment and opening the discussion to his (1.9m followers) and opened the conversation on global news platforms. Due to various interpretations, a vendetta against the Marine Reserve in Reunion was given fresh life and an, albeit minor, terror attack took place.
Billions of us use social media daily. An Instagram following of over one million is today’s finest form of influence. Take when Kim Kardashian (93.7m) posted the number of Americans killed annually by Islamic jihadists (2) vs armed toddlers (21), lightning (31) and being shot by another American (11,737) in response to Trump’s “Muslim Ban”–which fails to report the San Bernardino, California shooting that resulted in the death of 14. It made national news, had no text other than the word statistics in the screen grab and contained misinformation. In the hyper-reactionary times of today, social media, which in theory should be taken lightly, is not. It’s become the popular majority’s principal source of news, fake news, alternative facts and belief, which is a scary notion. The issue isn’t bringing up issues for thoughtful discussion; it’s the unpredictable effect it has on the public.
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