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Oceangate submersible - memes
Photo via OceanGate

In the wake of the Titan tragedy, the web goes to war over its distasteful memes

There's a fine line between dark humor and extreme distaste.

On June 18, a Titanic-bound submersible called the Titan from OceanGate went missing not long after taking off to explore an area 13,000 feet below sea level, and not long after, it’s been reported that contact with those on board was lost. For nearly four days, efforts were made to try to locate the Titan, but on the morning of June 22, it was confirmed by the U.S. Coast Guard that the submarine had suffered an implosion, and debris had been found near the Titanic wreckage site.

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Officials say the debris is consistent with a “catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” and among the five victims are a Titanic explorer, the CEO of OceanGate, and a 19-year-old who was excited to take an extraordinary journey with his father and was described as “a big fan of science fiction literature and learning new things.”

Those who lost their lives leave behind loved ones, families, careers, and dreams — with each having a lot of life left to live, but some of the public remarks about the lives lost have been less than considerate in a significant way.

Some of the memes shared have quickly gone from somewhat sarcastic about certain aspects of the Titanic wreckage exploration to downright cruel and mean. Yes, we all wondered why something resembling a gaming remote had total control of a vessel with five passengers, and nothing is wrong, per se, with giggling at something so seemingly preposterous, but there’s a lot more going on than just that.

On the other hand, many users have shared a distaste for what is being shared about the lives that have been lost. Yes, they had money unlike that which most of us will ever see, but because of their financial status, is it suddenly okay to write off their deaths as something they deserved?

The difference between dark humor and respect has been brought up by many online, and we get it — we’re no strangers to dark humor ourselves, but there’s also a level of compassion that should surpass the desire to share a meme or make a joke when families have to learn to quickly adjust to a life without those their loved ones.

The conversation has also moved over to Amazon, where reviews for a Logitech controller resembling the one steering the Titan sub had become saturated with distasteful remarks regarding the Titan and the lives lost. Amazon has begun deleting the reviews and is now monitoring the page.

Titanic director and powerhouse in the entertainment industry, James Cameron, knows a lot about submersibles and has done a great deal of research on his own. He weighed in on the loss of the Titan vessel, some of what was being said about the trip beforehand, and warnings that may not have been adequately heeded in the weeks and months before the exploration began.

At the end of the day, no matter what type of humor you have, how many people tweet that video of The Simpsons “predicting” another popular culture event, or statements you make — freedom of speech is a real thing, and people arguing that certainly have their ground to stand upon. Still, life is all about timing, and right now seems like the exact space where we should lend kindness and compassion instead.

The loss of these lives will leave heartache and pain in its wake; and we are sending our thoughts to the families and loved ones of the submersible crew. May their memories continue to live on in the hearts of those they leave behind.

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Ashley Marie
Ashley Marie is a staff writer, beat leader, Disney fanatic, and Yellowstone expert. When she's not filling her friends in on all the entertainment news they can handle, she's drinking her go-to Starbucks order — a caramel macchiato, thank you — and wishing she was at Disney World or spending time at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. With a focus on positivity and kindness in journalism, Ashley has been writing for a decade and hopes to keep bringing you articles for decades to come.