This is a screengrab of actress Chloe Moretz’s Twitter page. She tweets her thoughts and prayers to the people in Boston, then she retweets two articles about herself, and then she tweets again about the scary things that are happening in the world today. Right. Perfect. WOULD YOU HIT IT? Look, actress Chloe Moretz is 16 years old. We’re all just doing the best we can. But once again I am baffled and confused by people’s use of the Internet in a time of genuine human tragedy. What, exactly, is the purpose of tweeting that you are praying for Boston? That’s an actual question, I want to know. We are all praying for Boston, or if not praying, then doing whatever variation on quiet compassion we prefer. Is it because we feel powerless in the face of death? OK, but tweeting does not change that. And what, in our fevered imaginations powered by fear and confusion, do we imagine to be the best case scenario of a tweet about praying for Boston? Who exactly is the tweet FOR? It’s not for Boston. If it is, I’m sorry, but Boston has more important things going on right now. Is it for your other friends who are also not in Boston? Is it to let them know that you know about the news? If someone does not tweet that they are praying for Boston, do you assume that they don’t care about Boston or that they are not emotionally affected by these terrible events? IS IT TO PROMOTE THE ENTOURAGE MOVIE? Fucking COME ON. Is it because tweeting that you are praying for Boston allows you to feel connected with other people, and therefore less alone, and therefore less casually tossed around by the absurd winds of an indifferent universe? Again: real question! It is OK to feel helpless because you are helpless. And it is OK to do things to feel less helpless because that feels better than feeling more helpless. But with this Twitter stuff, man oh man, always so confusing and noisy and frustrating. Please know that I don’t think this blog post is any better. If I had my way, we would have unplugged the Internet YEARS AGO. Not just today but every day and forever. I don’t know. Sorry? Sorry everyone? But now you also please apologize?

Hang in there, please. Love you guys. Stop tweeting though.

Comments (72)
  1. I don’t really have a problem with this kind of thing even though it’s pretty pointless, because I think on the whole it’s well-meaning and doesn’t hurt anybody. What really bugs is something like a person creating a fake Boston Marathon Twitter account and claiming that they will donate $1 for every person who retweets. Because seriously WHAT is the point of that? To try to make people look stupid? To feel famous for 45 seconds? To just be an asshole for the sake of being an asshole? Give me 1,000 “#PrayForBoston”s over that shit any day.

    • But on a lighter note, this is probably as perfect an encapsulation of Twitter as we’re ever likely to get:

      • I’ve been doing a lot of social media research for my day job and I’ve often had to look down the hole of people who non-ironically retweet corporate social media messages and it’s just… it’s exactly what you think it would be. And then I get sad. And then I remember that most of the worst parts of the Internet are done by teenagers (and BuzzFeed listicles) and that I’m lucky that this crap didn’t exist when I was that age. And then I go for a run. I forgot what my point is. Oh, picking on teenagers isn’t fair. Also, Twitter comedians that ironically retweet corporate messages are really annoying, but I do like it when the social media voice for a brand is funnier than the idiots trolling it… which is what I’m trying to manage for day job. (I had a couple thoughts that were competing with each other because the world is complicated and I would like a sandwich.)

        • I definitely agree about picking on teenagers/children on the internet, and I hope my comment didn’t seem like I was doing that. TBH I have no idea who/what Keenan Cahill is (child? adult? robot? corporation?), and I have no feelings about him(?) tweeting this. The “Follow me!” response just seemed so typical of the more depressing aspects of Twitter.

          • Oh, not you at all!!! That is absolutely perfect as a reflection of everything and the world being tone deaf, etc., why I need to go for a run in the middle of the work day, etc.

            I was thinking of the people who know better and just ironically retweet corporate messages or troll them for LULZ and know better and often are a lot less funny than the companies’ reactions.

            My brain is jumping around a bit on account of the lack of a sandwich in my face.

        • How can you not know who Keenan is and still call yourself a Monster?!

        • Hold up, now! Joe Mande’s retweeting of corporate messages can be truly brilliant (though not as brilliant as Joe Mande’s Brokencyde Concert Challenge).

      • Perfect use of sad face/question mark.

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  2. While we’re at it, can we discuss prayer in general? Some dum-dum posted on Facebook that we should all pray for her daughter, who had a slight temperature. I did not pray for her daughter, but it DID get me thinking. What are we praying for? For God to stop attacking her daughter? I can sort of get it for things people do to each other, but if you think that God can make your daughter better if you get enough names on your praytition, then you have to accept that GOD IS THE ONE WHO IS MAKING YOUR DAUGHTER SICK IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    I dunno, you guys. It’s a weird world we live in.

    • This will probably come across as insular to Christianity, but here’s a good article addressing some of what you’re asking:

      To synthesize, no, I don’t think we’re praying for God to stop making that woman’s daughter sick or for him to stop bombing people (Pat Robertson’s pop-theology is pitiful, y’all). I think we’re asking God to do a better job of controlling the chaos of the world. I guess I’m a weird person who believes he listens and cares if we choose to participate in that conversation or not.

      • Well, “asking God to do a better job of controlling the chaos” doesn’t really make that much sense either. I mean, what, God meant to do it, but forgot, but he’ll get right on it if you send him a reminder?

        But, if you believe he’s listening to you, then asking God to do stuff is a lot like these Twitter posts. You are doing it to show him you care and are a good person. Then, maybe he will intervene and bless you in some way (not necessarily in the specific way you are asking) because you’ve shown yourself to be worthy.

        (Also, you are talking to yourself as an affirmation of your basic beliefs and values, like Stuart Smalley in his mirror.)

        So “Dear Lord, please help Aunt Nancy with her cancer” is just a different way of saying “I am worried about this and wish something good will happen. This is what’s most important to me right now.”

        • Good thoughts, thedevilprobably (haha; your name makes your comment that much better).

          I think your question assumes the same thing facetaco assumes which is that a belief in God requires a belief that he mandates everything that happens here (see “divine determinism” in the link above). That’s not how I think about God. It is, however, the loudest and most popular voice in Western Christendom. And it’s really quite a miserable way to think about life. “Congratulations, you were born and predestined to hell! Life will suck no matter which way you turn because I am the Lord and I say so! Remember that time I gave your mom cancer? Wasn’t that great!” Who wants to hang out with that guy? Nobody. And for good reason (though Jesus has some interesting things to say about people who are in misery in this world; he keeps calling them blessed.)

          To address your question more directly, the world is fallen and affected by the choices we make which are our own. Chaos is simply the representation of the things that are not a result of our choices (earthquakes, hurricanes, cancer). I don’t believe God commands those things to happen, but I do believe he allows them to happen. “But, Dish, if God allows it to happen, then he’s not really worth worshiping either, because if he’s all-powerful then he could stop it!” You’ve just stumbled on one of the oldest conversations in the book; the problem of evil. Without writing for another few hours, the thought that helps me most is that without evil, there is nothing for us to compare good to.

          I agree with nearly everything in your second paragraph. The only part I take issue with is that whether I’m worthy or not doesn’t come into play. God does a lot of good things for people who aren’t worthy. Everyone is worthy of consideration because everyone is made by God is the assumption I subscribe to.

          “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough” only applies if you don’t believe he’s listening. Otherwise, it’s like having a conversation with a friend who doesn’t speak back in a traditional way.

          Ultimately, to me, prayer is a plea to God to reconcile the world to the best place ever and for God to make that happen right now. Popular imagination of what a reconciled wold looks like is limited to someone sitting on a cloud with a halo and a harp (aka really boring). I believe it looks a lot more like the best times in life, only better, right here, right now.

    • I take issue with people treating Facebook as a link to God. That is the most bizarre thing I’ve seen. People continuing to send messages to deceased friends and family members, one person I know of has an active Facebook wall FIVE YEARS after he died. Maybe when you die your Facebook should link to grief counseling after a year.

    • You know what? If it helps them, who cares??? We’re all just trying to get the fuck by. If someone wants to pray, or tweet that they are praying, or write on a dead relative’s wall, then so be it. It’s not hurting me, so why should I stop them? In fact, it’s kind of a dick move to tell them that whatever comfort they get is stupid, when in reality, it’s not my nor anyone else’s business.

    • I grew up with the idea that prayer would help to cause God’s will to come to fruition. I was encouraged to pray for anything. Later on, as the logic broke down, I was instructed to know that any lack of an answer was answer enough. That any lack of a sign was a sign itself. That it was not God’s will (which leads to guilt – I was a protestant and protestant guilt is a real thing too, Catholics :) ), and you should move forward with that knowledge that your idea of justice and harmony is at best inefficient in a cosmic sense, and at worst a heavenly impeachable affront to the creator of everything you love.

      In a crisis as overwhelming as this attack, I can’t imagine how the individuals with a strict faith are responding. I would like to pray for them, but I can’t do that. It would be dishonest. I do hope they pray for themselves so they can find something that gives them a slight comfort – a god who isn’t there, a God who is, or even some stranger who spent a minute with them.

  3. Hopefully if Anne Frank were alive today she would tweet out well wishes to the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing.

  4. The worst in people tends to bring out the worst in people.

  5. In news that might make you smile if you’re not already, Fergie picked a VERY bad day to release her new single:,96492/

    You would think Will.I.Am would have warned her, what with him being from the future and all.

  6. Actually the internet has been pretty great in terms of getting people in touch with people that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise what with the cell shutdown.

    • and setting up a “people who need somewhere to stay/people willing to put people up” site. So yeah, there’s some good stuff going on.

  7. Very good article, it kind of makes you think that ten years ago we had Johnny Cash, Steve Jobs and Bob Hope. Now we have no Cash, no Jobs, and no Hope.

  8. But can I put it on Pinterest?

  9. Honest answer, I think it’s just so it doesn’t look like you’re ignoring it. I don’t need to tweet about the Boston Marathon because who the fuck cares who I am, but people notice when famous people don’t voice their opinions on tragedies.

    • Which is, I think, a problem on its own. Why are people noticing whether or not Armie Hammer has opinions on the threats from Noth Korea, or whatever? Why should ANYBODY even be thinking about the opinions of celebrities on major world events, ever?

    • It could just be a strong feeling that needs to go somewhere. Even famous people have those. I’m not going to be too cynical about this. I think Chloe Moretz & co weren’t so calculating — probably had the same appalled, hurt, angry reaction I had — or a similar enough reaction; I figure most people had a reaction like that. It comes with an urge to do something, anything. Maybe that’s a message on the internet in some cases.

      I don’t know. My feelings on this aren’t going to be coherent for at least another day or two.

      • Oh, don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying that celebrities shouldn’t care about these issues, and shouldn’t comment on them. Of course they should, they’re human! But I’m saying the public shouldn’t be concerned whether or not they actually do. And my feelings on anything aren’t ever coherent, so I’m glad to know I’ve got company, at least for the time being.

        • Sometimes I wonder if the public really does care what any celebrity thinks. People get pissed at, like, Barbra Streisand for having opinions — but I have always been confused by that. Is she supposed to not have opinions like a normal person does, just because she also sings? On the other hand: Did anyone ever take her opinions seriously and switch their vote to Mondale or whatever? I don’t think most people react to celebrity opinions more than just to say in passing, “Okay, well, now I know how she feels.”

          I could be wrong. Also, I wonder if I just made the Internet’s first Mondale reference.

  10. Honestly, I don’t give a shit what people say on Twitter, if they want to tweet about Boston then let them. My home town got bombed today and I am freaking the fuck out. I am trying to make sure everyone I love is safe. All those tweets/fb posts/everything are just showing support. And good lord, it’s nice to know that not everyone in the world is terrible.

    • This.

      Who even cares if their motives are internally focused? At least there’s a modicum of positivity and support behind them, instead of cynicism being masked as befuddlement for jokez on

    • Yes. Take care. I hope you hear from all your friends & family soon.

      • Thanks! Pretty much everyone has checked in by one form or another. Thank god my family usually avoids Boston on marathon day, cause traffic. So yeah, everyone seems good.

    • Boston love, buddy. I offer you something kinda funny to hopefully make you laugh when shit is scary. On my way out of work (four stops away from Copley) there were all these spooky abandoned trains and i felt really weird. But then all the BU and BC kids were piss drunk and playing ass-grab. Terrorism can’t get college kids down!

  11. Yes, some responses to tragedy on social media are glib and therefore obnoxious. Most I see, though, come from places of genuine concern. I don’t begrudge anyone a “praying for Boston” Tweet. I mean sure, Chloe Moretz’s Tweet stream is a little bit awful to look at, and she should maybe have held off on those retweets right then. But I don’t doubt that she is thinking about Boston, even if she isn’t ONLY thinking about Boston. We are all thinking about Boston today, aren’t we? And we can still look forward to what’s for dinner or whatever?

    • Absolutely, Steph. If anything she needed to finish up any and all of her #ConcernForBoston tweets for the day before waiting a beat and continuing with business-as-usual.

      And now I am done discussing how a famous teenager should manage her twitter feed.

  12. I agree with this. The other one I wonder, and this applies more to people making Facebook statuses about huge, non-tragic events in the news like “New Pope!”, is do you not realize that:

    a) There are literally thousands of other people posting the exact same thing, making your post quite redundant.
    b) If you are posting that, it means you read about it on a news site or blog or saw it on TV, etc, which means that you are not the one BREAKING THIS NEWS, which means most people reading your post probably already know the information you are “distributing.” Again with the redundancy.
    c) It’s kind of pointless? Like what are you accomplishing by posting a status stating the fact that a new pope just got elected or whatever. It makes you look dumb.

    • There’s a new pope?!

    • This is generally how I feel, which is why I really don’t post this kind of stuff (including commiserations), but I don’t begrudge anyone his/her right to do so. It’s pointless, but also harmless, and in some cases – like, today, for instance – it can be good to generate an atmosphere of caring/concern. I don’t mind seeing 90% of my Facebook feed devoted to one topic when the topic is “We are thinking of our friends out there.”

      • Sometimes when something terrible has happened, it’s nice to see that strangers care.

      • and also today: any of my FB friends from MA who post an update means they are ok, and that’s all I need to know.

        but also: sometimes you post newsy stuff to start conversations with people on facebook, at least that’s what I do. Like the new pope stuff and such.

  13. I agree.

    I imagie people tweet “Thinking of Boston. Hang in there!” as an act of solidarity? Maybe? I’m not sure. That’s my best guess. Although, I would much rather hear these types of tweets opposed to “The only way to stop a bad guy with a bomb is a good guy with a bomb,” which I know is an extreme comparison, but I won’t be surprised if we get an equivalent coming out of this.

  14. This is exactly why instead of tweeting, I’m sleeping with Dr. Rosen’s wife

    • Maaaan, I have not seen last night’s episode yet, so no spoiler-o, but that was such a bummer in the premiere! Mostly because Dr. Rosen was quickly becoming my favorite non-Don, non-Peggy, non-Roger character. Dude got blitzed on New Years, and then straight SKIIED TO WORK HAMMERED OFF HIS ASS TO PERFORM SURGERY!

  15. I kind of saw the Chloe Moretz thing as not all bad. Yes, of course, to tweet a “Thinking of you, Boston” and then posting self-promotional blah followed by another “Hang in there, Boston” is upsetting. But I worked the whole day, and even at 3:30 when my department shuffled out of the building to go home early, I stuck around to keep doing my job. I suppose Chloe had to continue her job, as currently grotesque as it is.

  16. So you’re saying that the Tweet isn’t enough? That she should take action? That when it comes to Boston, she should have More Than A Feeling?

  17. Eh, I don’t comment much, but I thought I’d try to address this.

    First of all, I think there’s a pretty easy explanation for why people post that they’re praying for Boston. Huge attacks like this are galvanizing. People tend to fall into three categories: 1) those who care deeply and have something novel to add to the conversation 2) those who care deeply and have nothing novel to add to the conversation and 3) those who either are ignorant to what’s happened or don’t care.

    People in group 2) don’t want to be confused for people in group 3), as apathy and ignorance are far more destructive than redundant solidarity. But it’s impossible to distinguish between someone who cares but says nothing and someone who doesn’t care. AND WE SHOULD CARE AND WE SHOULD TAKE HEART KNOWING THAT OTHER PEOPLE CARE. That’s, like, the bare minimum of how we should respond. So we come up with hashtags that show that in a tiny, unobtrusive way.

    And if the issue is just with praying in general, as I think a few commenters here have said, come on. People pray for the same reason they do everything: something in their lives has reenforced it–not because they totally think they’re calling down wizard spell from God to solve God-created problems. Praying brings people comfort, and knowing other people are praying brings a lot of victims comfort. Quit being a dick about it.

    In high school, a friend’s dad died, and I decided at the last minute to go to the funeral, even though I didn’t know him and wasn’t great friends with her. It was one of the first funerals I’d ever been to, and not a lot of people went, and I had it in my head that this poor girl was sick of hearing the same thing from everybody. So when I got to her, I tried to say something clever and off-speed, like, “Mondays, huh?” or some awful shit, hoping to bring a chuckle to a dark situation. She was just like, “okay?” and then I left.

    Going was the right move, but I really wish I’d just said “I’m praying for you,” like everybody else.

    • Oh, a condition of almost everything I was saying is that we also carry out our lives on the internet. That’s definitely The Worst and should change, but that’s just as true for “hashtagging in the wake of a tragedy” as it is for, like, “live-tweeting the MTV Movie Awards.”

    • Well said. I’d like to piggyback off of this comment with something that’s been on my mind for the past few hours, and especially after reading Patton Oswalt’s response to all of this. I don’t mean to call artdork out on this, but it irks me when someone says “people suck” because of incidents like this. I mean hey, we all do shitty things from time to time (some more than others) but I don’t think it’s fair to paint everyone as awful just because of a few worthless assholes who commit this crap.

      • : ( No, I see what you’re saying, and I do agree. The amazing job that the people on the scene did should be commended and really, if anything, the way everyone I know here in Boston called/texted to check on each other was great. For only having been here 8 months, I feel like I’m a part of a community and even when bad things are happening, it’s really wonderful and brilliant. But I will say that certain people do suck. And I hope they rot in whatever sort of hell they believe in.

  18. I read this post ten minutes after it went up, before there were any comments, and I considered going “First!” as a dumb joke. But then I thought, no, it’s actually kind of beautiful that no-one’s commented yet. Maybe the internet has taken what Gabe said to heart. And I was filled with hope, in spite of the tragedy. What a rube.

    I like that people use this space to check in and to vent and to connect with fellow human beings who we assume are feeling feelings that approximate the feelings we ourselves are feeling. That’s all good. That’s what makes Videogum great. But when you start arguing about the rightness or wrongness of Gabe’s argument, or response, or whatever you want to call it, and it goes back and forth and in and out the other side, that’s where you lose me. Just feel something or don’t, but if you don’t, at least respect the fact that other people might be feeling something and maybe this isn’t the time to debate the fucking pros and cons of Twitter. AS IF IT EVEN MATTERS!

    And enough with the goddamn wannabe bon mots! I give you all enough credit to assume that they’re delivered in the spirit of gallows humour, but just… enough. Fucking enough. Take a break from being so fucking impressed with your own cleverness. Jesus Christ. You’ve made me angry, Videogum. And I was already pissed off.

    Downvote away!

    • I guess I sort of get where you’re coming from, but by the same argument, Gabe shouldn’t have even made this post in the first place. The fact that a number of us responded to discuss whether we agree with his point about Twitter and this kind of situation seems pretty normal and appropriate to me. Obviously what happens on Twitter is not the important thing to take away from what happened in Boston, but a topic was put up for discussion, and we discussed it.

      As for people making jokes or “bon mots,” humor is a way to deal with feelings sometimes, and I wouldn’t be so quick to call somebody an asshole for making a joke in an upsetting time. We all cope with our feelings in our own way, and it seems to me that there isn’t anybody in this entire thread who doesn’t feel rotten about what happened. It may come off as being “so fucking impressed with your own cleverness” to you, but honestly your outrage about it doesn’t come off much better, as you are basically telling people that they are not having the correct reaction to a traumatic event, and that you are the only one who feels the right way. I’m not saying that’s what you intended necessarily, but that’s how it sounds.

      • Fair enough. I can see how what I said could have come across as me telling other people how to react, as if I am the only one who knows how to react correctly. I was deeply scared when I wrote this. Too scared to joke about it. I’m a bit older than most of you so the post 9/11 world is still something I haven’t totally adapted to. It seems like the world took a turn towards the Darkest Timeline that day, a timeline that none of us saw coming, and whenever the world seems to be heading towards an even Darkerest Timeline, I get a bit freaked out. My post came entirely from fear and I totally agree with Churchill that fear is the least constructive response to a crisis, so I apologize. But even though I phrased it as if I was pissed off at all of you, having re-read this thread I’ve realized that my indignation was sparked by a single Monster: Facetaco. I get that inappropriateness is his schtick but the More Than A Feeling post for some reason fucking enraged me. I should’ve thought about it and had the awareness to say as much, but I didn’t. So, sorry.

        Having said that… I still don’t know why but that post continues to piss me off. Good job, Facetaco. You got a reaction.

  19. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that her agency has a bot that scans twitter and retweets posts about her automatically.

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