Social networking and the mindset on Osama

Dante Frattini


They’re saying Osama bin Laden’s death is one of those events that is so captivating and transcendent, you will always remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news.

That is entirely true for me, but with the addition of how I heard.

I was walking back to my girlfriend’s house after eating dinner at a Mexican restaurant in midtown Sacramento. As usual, I was scrolling through my just-updated Twitter feed in hopes of finding some pithy comments about mundane topics or a friend who is sharing way too much personal information.

Instead, I found the biggest development in the war on terror since 9/11.

Ironically enough, it was a comedian who broke the news to me. Anthony Jeselnik, who recently gained notoriety for his set on the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump, tweeted: “Osama Bin Laden is dead? FINALLY! We’re even!”

Being that this was the first I had heard about any of the news, the poignancy and cleverness of Jeselnik’s joke was lost on me at that moment.

As I continued to scroll through my feed I, began to realize that this, in fact, was very real. Friend after friend was posting the news, in numerous different words and tones.

Now that I’ve had some time to digest what has been fed to me, I’ve been analyzing many of the interesting aspects of this story. What I find fascinating is that I never questioned the credibility of Twitter when the news of bin Laden’s death was breaking. Perhaps reading the same news from multiple sources – none of which were journalists or news organizations – preemptively dispelled any notion that it was a rumor.

Social networking is absolutely incredible. As a person who rarely watches cable news – partly because I find it annoying and also because I don’t have cable – I likely would not have heard about President Barack Obama’s address or the attack on bin Laden’s compound if it were not for my Blackberry.

Another byproduct of breaking news and social networks is the instant feedback and reactions that are available, largely from people you know. In the immediate aftermath of a major world event such as the death of bin Laden, a Facebook or Twitter feed turns into a fascinating window into the rarely-seen mindsets of your friends.

This, of course, is for better or worse.

The posts I saw on Twitter and Facebook were written in a range of tones, all of which were interesting. Here are some of the thoughts people had last night when absorbing the blitz of information.

The understandably reserved:

* “The day all of our soldiers come home safe is the day I celebrate.”

* “Well lets all have a Thank you to all the men and women that gavetheir lives to keep us safe”

* “he’s dead. great. can we stop wasting our time in Afganastan (sic) now?! Please?!!!?!?!”

The humorous:

* “Does this mean gas prices will go down now????”

* “Waldo: 1, Osama Bin Laden: 0”

And the misguided:

* “Finally we killed osama bin laden (sic) USA USA USA!!!!!!!”

* “Anyone else have goosebumps? Bin Laden DEAD!”

This last sentiment is the one that concerns me.

Yes, we finally – emphasis on “finally” – brought a very bad man to justice. And I realize that, at least on the surface, this is a very good thing. This is providing a sense of closure and relief to many of the thousands of people who were affected, either directly or indirectly, by the heinous actions of Osama bin Laden.

The victims of the 9/11 attacks, the troops sent to the Middle East and the families of both have had to endure a pain far greater than what bin Laden rightly suffered in his final minutes.

But besides what bin Laden represents to victims desperately searching for justice, experts are saying his death will change little in terms of al Qaeda’s desire and capabilities.

Regardless, it’s not something to victoriously chant “USA!” after. Your reaction to bin Laden’s death should be different than your reaction to Michael Phelps’ eighth gold medal.

Besides, it’s not as if the U.S. really kicked ass on this one. This is something this country has been trying to do for a decade.

Celebrating in the streets over bin Laden’s overdue capture and death is like calling all your friends because you got your GED just before your 30th birthday.

Just acknowledge the accomplishment, breathe a sigh of relief, and go on about the rest of your unfinished business.

Also, goosebumps? I thought goosebumps were meant for moments that were so great and touching, you could hardly handle them physically.

Maybe the night of May 1 contained a moment like that for you; it did not for me. I can’t reach that level of positive emotion over a death. The end to one man’s life, and to a 10-year question in America’s history, only prompted me to ask more questions.

Like, what’s next?

I hope it’s something that is worth gloating over.