The world was stunned just a few days ago when news of the Malaysian Flight 17’s crash hit the newsfeeds. As a frequent flyer I found a pit in my stomach as I watched the details unfold. Soon to follow were reports of the plan being shot down. Over 300 lives lost in an instant.
As a comedian, I spend a lot of time looking at the world around me and finding humor in the moments where you would normally shy away from a smile. It’s a defense mechanism, really, but it’s something I embrace for the joy of others. I’m not the only one.
As an educator, I work the help others understand the world around them. My job is to teach them to see the reality in a world that has gone far too digital and become even more disconnected despite the 24/7 stream of consciousness that flows all around us.
Through life and work I have learned many important lessons. I have learned that some things you can joke about and others are best left alone. There is a time and place for humor in situations. Saturday Night Live tackled with the same issue in the wake of September 11th, coming back on the air just two weeks after that tragic day. They handled it with great tact and grace. As a matter of fact, Saturday Night Live would be the place to look for how to handle humor in tough situations. How to acknowledge pain, loss and tragedy.
Jason Biggs is another story all together.
Shortly after the news of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 hit the air, Bigg took to Twitter and posted, “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?”
He was then blasted by his followers for his vulgar comment, the common thread being that it was too soon.
Biggs retorted with: “Hey all you ‘too soon’ a–holes- it’s a f–king joke. You don’t have to think it’s funny, or even be on my twitter page at all.”
His rant continued in the following fashion:
“Truly- you losers are literally trying to find s–t to get angry about. Channel your issues elsewhere.”
“The idea that I wouldnt have any empathy 4 the victims or their families because I make a joke is absolutely ridiculous. U know that, right?”
“It’s saddest for the victims and their families, obviously. But Malaysia Airlines is apparently a GREAT airline. Gonna be tough to recover.”
Later on in the day, Biggs removed his offensive tweets and the subsequent rant and issued a four-tweet apology:
1) 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.
2) This is obviously a horrible tragedy, and everyone-including myself- is sad and angry about it. Sending positive thoughts to the
3) victims and their families. P.S. No one is making me send these tweets- I simply understand that my comments might have come off
4). as insensitive and ill-timed. For that, I apologize.
But this incident isn’t Biggs’ first run in with the Twitter-sphere when it comes to the troubled airline. In the wake of missing flight 370, likened the situation to the plot line of the reality dating show “The Bachelor” tweeting: “Nikki is looking for Juan Pablo to say ‘I Love You.’ She’d have better luck looking for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. #TheBachelor”
In 2012 during the Republican National Convention, Biggs live-tweeted along posting what can only be described as the most disgusting tweets I have ever seen.
Since I would rather not have them printed here, please feel free to read the article on Salon here. Please be warned that they are vile, highly graphic and offensive.
At the time the American Pie star refused to apologize for his tirade and instead issued one final tweet seen at the bottom of the page on Salon.
The take-away from this entire situation is one that I stress to every audience I stand before. From the halls of elementary schools, high schools, colleges to the corporate world there is one simple rule above all that will help everyone when it comes to social media.
Take time to think.
If we take a second or two to really think about what we’re about to post it might save us a world of trouble.
There have been plenty of times that I have written a status update or tweet and really had to think hard about whether to post it. More often than not, I don’t. I err on the side of caution and let the joke go. Whether it be too soon or just not right for my particular audience, I’d rather not risk it.
So please Mr. Biggs learn your lesson (3rd time’s the charm, right?) and take care in what you tweet. A great lesson for all of us. The reality is, things like this can cost you your job, education, future. When in doubt- don’t post it maybe save the joke until your face to face with some friends and leave it there. The world doesn’t need to know.
Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com
You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.