Jason Biggs sparked a Twitter storm Thursday following the crash of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet in Ukraine. His nine-word tweet was a prime example of exactly how NOT to use social media during a terrible disaster:
“Anyone wanna buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?” the 36-year-old wrote.
Needless to say, Biggs was ripped apart by commenters for his regrettable joke, and later deleted the tweets.
While I understand that being funny is part of his persona, as a father to a newborn baby – and a human being with a working pulse – you would think he would be a little more sensitive to the family members of the nearly 300 people who lost their lives on the downed flight. Death is death – and there’s no way we can use humor to justify it, especially when it happens in such a sudden, awful way.
Now, I don’t want this to turn into a rant about how Biggs is a horrible guy for saying what he did, because I’m sure he does have a heart somewhere inside his Hollywood facade. In fact, back in December, he was pretty riled up when a Coffee Bean in Los Angeles put out two tip jars labeled with Paul Walker’s movies immediately following the actor’s untimely death.
Biggs also offered an apology to his followers for the badly-timed jokes: “Hey all – ok, so – I am deleting my previous tweets. People were offended, and that was not my intent. Sorry to those of you that were. This is obviously a horrible tragedy, and everyone – including myself – is sad and angry about it. Sending positive thoughts to the victims and their families.”
So what can we learn from his mistake?
For parents, it offers an opportunity to teach our kids a valuable lesson about social media behavior: Think before you tweet. Or better yet, don’t tweet at all. Write it down on a piece of paper, put it in a draft on Microsoft Word, or simply wait a few seconds before pressing “send.”
Too often, we say things we don’t mean. Comments and jokes can be misinterpreted online. It happens to the best of us. It’s certainly happened to me, and I’ve had to spend so much more time and energy explaining a joke than the few seconds it took for me to come up with it.
I would never defend Biggs for his comments, but truth be told, when I first heard about the crash, the thought “Did it have to be another Malaysian Airlines plane?” ran through my head. He addressed something many of us were thinking, but expressed it in a truly distasteful manner.
As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children respect through our actions. They look to us for guidance on how to respond to horrific disasters both far away and at home. They expect us to know better, and we should. I hope Jason Biggs keeps this in mind the next time he decides to tweet about the news.
In the meantime, let’s continue to hope that the families of the victims who perished in the crash will get the answers they deserve, and that some day we will live in a world where our skies aren’t targeted by terrorism. There might be a time and place in which humor can help us get past our grief, but that time is certainly not right now.
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