It has been said that out of every tragedy comes strength – a sentiment that as a nation we were once again forced to remind ourselves of in the aftermath of the horrific circumstances concert goers attending Manchester Arena found themselves in earlier this week. Less than two months since politicians and members of the public were subjected to a terrifying terrorist attack in London’s Westminster, the UK was once again rocked by tragedy when more than 20 people lost their lives at a pop concert taking place in the city regarded by many as the capital of the north.
Residents across the UK woke up to the news that 22 children and adults had lost their lives in an apparent suicide bomb attack during a show staged by pop icon Ariana Grande on Monday evening, with messages of support soon pouring in from leading figures across the globe. As news of the attack spread, so too did the strength of feeling from members of the public, politicians, leading sporting and entertainment figures who, like the rest of us, were all deeply shocked and saddened at the events which had taken place the previous evening.
Ariana Grande took to Twitter herself just five hours after the incident to say she was ‘broken’ and ‘so, so sorry’ from the bottom of her heart. Prime Minister Theresa May swiftly followed with a vow to ‘stand with the people of Manchester at this terrible time’, made via her own Twitter account and posted alongside a video of a personal statement made outside 10 Downing Street. By lunchtime the day after the atrocity, the world had also heard from other leading figures and celebrities including Jeremy Corbyn, Victoria Beckham, Rihanna, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and many more.
Meanwhile, hashtags also swiftly began to circulate in the wake of the trauma to support those directly affected by the chaos and confusion which came afterwards. Relatives desperate for news that loved ones potentially caught up in the atrocity were supported in their search by the #MissingInManchester tag, which was used widely across social media platforms to encourage the sharing of related news and updates as widely as possible. Others displaced by the bombing itself were encouraged to make contact with city residents able to provide them with a place to stay and other kinds of refuge services via the #RoomForManchester tag. Elsewhere, emergency services caught up in dealing with the situation also issued up to the minute developments via their own social media channels, available for access to anyone wishing or needing to keep up with the latest news, wherever they might be.
There has been much talk in recent times of social media leading society in the very opposite of directions that were first intended during the early days of Facebook, Twitter and similar platforms, with many blamed for a lack of face to face interaction between social groups of all ages and background in today’s digital society. It is perhaps of some – albeit minuscule – comfort, therefore, that the social interaction seen in the aftermath of such a horrific tragedy has in its own way been able to support so many at a time when they need supporting the most.