Tragedies come and go but what stays forever is the presence of those souls who blessed us all with their art and grace. 

The death of an individual, especially of a loved one or someone you used to look up to, can cause an emotional stir within us. An overwhelming feeling takes over our body; we feel anger, resentment, and sadness all at once. 

So, when you’re going through this rough patch and scroll through your social media platforms to take your mind off of things, you see content like ‘Share this post if you knew him/her’ or ‘Like if you cared about him/her’. Absolutely nothing infuriates us more than seeing posts that promotes milking of tragedies, especially when those promoting this content do not even know the individual (personally) who passed away. 

We are not propagating that vocalizing your grief on social media is wrong. It is
somehow therapeutic and can cause a sense of comfort when you voice your emotions
on a platform that makes you feel safe and understood. The problem starts when
people use death to draw attention to themselves.

It is very evident that some people grab any opportunity they can to earn a bit of
money or trivialize sensitive topics for views and followers.

“When you get a lot of eyeballs on something, you get a lot of money. But there’s
been no talk of what would be just and fair in the world, and would be good for us to
do as people. I think it’s an ethical discussion we should be having at this point given
how many instances we’ve seen out there now. I would say it’s never right to monetise
tragedy.” says Jennifer Grygiel, Assistant Professor of Communications at Syracuse
University.

When Australian Bush Fires ensued in January 2020, an American businesswoman,
Lisa Frank, whose company sells and creates animal printed products, offered
financial aid but with a condition. She stated on social media that her company would
donate $1 towards Australian Relief for every follower her gains. This seems like a
great business tactic to gain popularity but asking for likes and followers in exchange
of donations is highly unethical, and insensitive to take advantage of the individuals
who are suffering.

On 26th January 2020, nine people, including professional basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, baseball coach, five other passengers, and the pilot, died on the spot in a helicopter crash in California. On one hand, it kindled a lot of tributes and acknowledgment for his achievements but on the other hand, various sneaker communities spiked prices of some of his sportswear (mostly sneakers). These communities faced major backlash as they preferred profiteering instead of paying homage to the late professional. 

Similarly, after famous Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise, the whole of India mourned but there were certain individuals who used this tragic event to monetise it as a source of extra income. In one of his videos, Rohan Cariappa, a famous youtuber highlighted how tragedy is the new money-making profession. He specifically talked about Dr Sashina, a Vedic Astrologist, who owns a YouTube channel, made 4 videos on the late actor and also claimed about who killed him, how his soul visited her and how she is not sharing her experience for money. Well, the last claim proved to be false as her video included 5 ad-rolls and it is not a surprise that these ads are used to earn money. 

Many renowned mentalists such as, Derren Brown, Keith Barry and famous magicians, Penn and Teller, state that psychic abilities and real magic does not exist.

When an individual has no relation with the person who faced their demise, it makes matters a lot worse. It is revolting when someone takes advantage of an unpleasant event like this.  

Death or a natural catastrophe should never be used to attain attention, views, profits or followers. The reason we talk about Milking of Tragedies is because it has never been considered as a topic for discussion and conversation. When we talk about death, it evokes a lot of emotions and tends to open our eyes to harsh realities. So, when a tragic event strikes, it causes an imbalance inside us, the feeling of loss is so intense that it shakes one to the core. It is ethically wrong and insincere to make benefits out of someone’s loss or sadness. When someone chooses to make money out of tragedy, they are reducing an emotional value out of the situation and turning it into something materialistic. To mask their intention, fool people, act empathetic, they are simply promoting this fake culture of pseudo sympathy and condolences.

We want change before this takes an ugly turn. 

Gagandeep Kakkar and Kashish Bakshi

B.A. (Hons) Applied Psychology

Amity University

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