A modern way of paying respects to those who die?

At the time of writing, we are a day short of seven days since the Manchester bombing. This time last week, many youngsters were getting very excited about seeing one of their pop idols, Ariana Grande, perform at the Manchester Arena in England. Little did we know of the devastation that was about to unfold into the lives of many from the North of the United Kingdom.

News of the blast, devastation, and loss of life soon engulfed social media. Many people were initially alerted by the blast through social media networks, and even the press scoured social media services looking for video clips or images ready to flash across the globe to tell of the unfolding story. Within the UK, in fairness, the press were quite restrained with what they showed, with many horrific stories and images filtering through on social networks.

And in the days that have followed, floral tributes to those who lost their lives, and those who are still recovering have flooded memorial sites in Manchester, but also at sites near to where victims lived.

Yet, a strange phenomenon has been unfolding on social media which, initially, I found perplexing. A close family member of mine followed her friend, one of the victims, on Instagram, and prior to the blast had just over 600 followers. Six days later, the same Instagram account is now in excess of 34,000 followers. Yes, over thirty four thousand followers. OK, she was the first victim named on Tuesday morning, and her name has been mentioned every day since, but why would people — so many people — want to ‘follow’ a person who sadly died in the blast? To me, there are a couple of possibilities:

  1. A morbid voyeuristic fascination?
  2. Lots and lots of journalists who are angling for a story?
  3. A modern way of sharing condolences?
  4. A positive and respectful side of online trolling?

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve missed the point altogether.

I could not imagine following someone who had fallen victim to an attack like Manchester, but I didn’t grow up surrounded by social media platform all vying for my attention by constant notifications on mobile devices that make interacting so darn easy. I’m opting for the reason demonstrating the good side of humanity.

I like to think that this is how the younger generation pay their respects in the only way they know how — showing support to the pop singer, the other victims, or the family connected to the individual.