In the wake of the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict, some people have sent some unfortunate tweets. A New York Giants football player, for example, transmitted a seemingly threatening tweet that has since been deleted. I’m sure there have been countless other ill-advised tweets from people at all points on the political and social spectrum and from all sides of the jury’s verdict.
It’s to be expected, because Twitter is supposed to be an instantaneous communication mechanism. It’s intended to capture people’s thoughts in the heat of the moment and disseminate them to a broad audience who otherwise would not receive the immediate reaction. That immediacy can be interesting, I suppose, but it is more likely to be a very bad idea. When people are enraged, or heartbroken, or overjoyed, they tend not to give thoughtful consideration to how they express their feelings. Think Alec Baldwin — who deactivated his Twitter account after some bizarre, disturbing rants but has now reactivated it so he could insult the entire state of Florida in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.
Alec Baldwin, and most other people, would be better off if they decided not to use Twitter at times like this — or at least paused to let emotions cool before they joined the Twitter frenzy. The country would be better off, too. Racist rants, comments urging violence or rioting, bigoted jokes, insults about jurors, and other, similar reactions aren’t going to help us deal with the aftermath of a controversial verdict in a racially charged criminal case.