By now, you’re likely familiar with the story of the submersible Titan operated by OceanGate. Unfortunately, the Titan sub went missing in international waters in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, on June 18th, 2023. It was on an expedition to view the famous wreck of the RMS Titanic.
Aboard the vessel are British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood (48) and his 19-year-old son, Suleman Dawood. British billionaire Hamish Harding (58) and Paul-Henry Nargeolet (77), a former French Navy commander founder, and chief executive of OceanGate Expeditions. OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush (61) is also believed to be on board.
Until the Titan went missing, I had never heard of taking submarine Titanic tours. I’ve always been fascinated with Titanic. Still, upon first reading about the situation, my heart sank. The sub is tiny and only has enough oxygen for four days, which is set to expire on the morning of June 22nd, 2023. Today.
Naturally, every media platform is covering it, so the story has been inescapable in my feed. However, something else has been consistent in my scroll, and I am uncomfortable and appalled.
Countless posts joking about the incident and dozens (probably more) of dark memes have surfaced in my feed. The first time I saw one, I just kind of shook my head in disbelief. I’m no stranger to laughing at inappropriate things, but the internet mocking of this incident feels sinister.
These people have likely gone through an exhausting range of emotions, from being terrified to claustrophobic to holding on to hope. Moreover, all their friends and family are stuck not knowing and grieving over circumstances and speculated outcomes.
I don’t want to imagine being one of their loved ones and scrolling the internet today. What has happened to humanity? When did everything become a cheap punchline to a distasteful joke?
From suggesting that the expedition was stupid, so they deserve it, to bringing the passenger’s politics into play, people are dismissing this horrific tragedy as entirely warranted. The fact that the people are billionaires and the expedition cost $250,000 has people accepting the situation as OK. And I don’t understand it.
One meme read: “If I were a billionaire stuck at the bottom of the ocean, I would simply pull myself up by my bootstraps.” A blatant dig at conservative boomer idealogy.
Another meme read: “When they say, ‘You can’t just disappear for five days,'” with an image of the Titan submarine below the text.
A third meme had an image of orcas banging wooden spoons and pans and read: “The banging noises they say they are hearing in the ocean.” And the poster actually wrote, “Lord, forgive me.” A clear indication of how condemning this type of hatefulness is.
Others shared memes of people swimming with statements that read: “Me looking for the wallets of everyone on board.”
I’ve seen posts stating, “Big egos have small ears,” discussing how these men were going to “visit a mass grave site for fun” as if that somehow justifies their disappearance and possible loss of lives.
It’s sickening. It’s not my first day on the internet, but my God. What has happened to compassion, care, and concern for other human beings? We should be praying together for the safe return of these five souls and for the fear and grief in the hearts of each of their loved ones.
Can you imagine dealing with this catastrophe and getting non-stop notifications from Twitter, Facebook, and news outlets, then reading the hate posted above? It’s disgraceful. Just stop for one minute, and place yourself in their shoes. Better yet, put your family in the shoes of theirs. Exhausted, scared, and devastated. Is it funny now?
It’s honestly made me stop and think of all of the times I have laughed at something that brings deep pain to others because it was presented in meme form. I vow to do better. We need to do better. Praying for peace in this dire situation, Amen.
Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.