In terms of documenting tragedy, Twitter is perhaps the worst historical record we have ever joined together as a species to compile. On normal days, it is a forum where millions of jackasses try to talk over each other for the chance to make the best attention-seeking pop culture reference.
And on days when the world is rocked by tragedy, it is a forum where millions of jackasses try to combine their best attention-seeking pop culture reference with said tragedy to get people to buy SpaghettiOs.
#4. Nelson Mandela's Death Seems to Be Covered by Adbots
When a famous human being dies, you can count on Twitter to host an ocean of terrible people either rushing to make the most hilarious dead celebrity joke they can think of or offering heartfelt tributes to a person they knew absolutely nothing about before typing their name into Google five minutes prior.
The passing of Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest human rights figures of the 20th century, was no exception, as a surprising number of people (read: more than zero) saw the man's death as a perfect promotional opportunity:
Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke, demonstrating the full spectrum of compassion we've come to expect from a person with "Hollywood blogger" anywhere on their resume, legitimately believed a plug for the new Nelson Mandela biopic was the perfect way to pay tribute to the anti-apartheid leader, instead of saying "Pouring one out for Nelson Mandela RIP" or, better yet, saying absolutely nothing at all.
Virgin Active's Facebook page also took the initiative to point out that their founder, Richard Branson, was close personal friends with Mandela, who had made it possible for Branson to open over 100 health clubs in South Africa, because truly that was the most important aspect of the Mandela legacy.
"Be sure to sign up for our tribute 'Long Zumba to Freedom' classes."
Unsurprisingly, Virgin has been stumbling through subsequent apologies. But hey, at least we know what rock bottom looks like.
#3. Official Can't Stop Himself from Making a Speed Reference While Tweeting About a Bomb
In Ireland last month, a masked man carried explosives onto a bus and ordered the driver to take them to a local police station so he could detonate the building into no-longer-existitude. The driver alerted the police instead, and several people were evacuated from the area so the police could attempt to defuse the bomb. Because this major threat to public safety involved a bomb on a bus, city councilman and member of the Legislative Assembly Mark H. Durkan provided his constituents with this update:
"It's during crises like these that we must remember to be most excellent to each other."
That's a reference to the movie Speed, tweeted to a frightened community as the event was unfolding, because clearly the best response to a serious security threat is for an elected official to inform us what Sandra Bullock movie it most closely resembles.
It's like he doesn't understand the gravity of the situation.
#2. SpaghettiOs Takes a Moment to Remember Pearl Harbor
SpaghettiOs, makers of tiny sponge rings suspended in science-bred tomato sauce with an aftertaste of tin and mercury, decided to send out a tweet on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor to pay tribute to the lives lost, because for some reason SpaghettiOs has an official Twitter account. What they did instead was deliver the single most baffling product endorsement of all time:
When asked for comment, execs replied, "Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs!"
The image debuted to a litany of scorn and was quickly deleted, possibly due to the fact that Mr. SpaghettiO or whatever the Christ his name is appears to be mouth-wateringly ecstatic over the anniversary of a historic event that sent more than 2,000 people to a watery grave.
#1. Reporter Nonsensically References Breaking Bad to Get People to Watch a Report About a Real Shooting
Breaking Bad was a cultural milestone, so it isn't surprising that LEGO sets, museum exhibits, and auctions surrounding the show sprang up to cash in on its popularity. Philadelphia-based Fox News reporter Joyce Evans attempted to join in on this completely acceptable bilking of a popular franchise by completely misunderstanding what people liked about the show and making light of a horrific shooting rampage in less than 140 characters:
"Like Sleepy Hollow? Well, a hobo was found HOLLOWED out in an alleyway last night! Tonight at 10!"
Despite the fact that Breaking Bad has little or nothing to do with random outbursts of mass violence, Evans decided it was the perfect way to satirize the real-life human tragedy that had taken place in her home city. That's right -- not only did she turn a shooting spree into a clumsy joke to draw viewers to her dumbass local news program, but according to her indignant reaction to the outrage over her tone-deaf tweet, she totally did it on purpose.