God save the brands.
Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.
On Thursday, the long-reigning British monarch Queen Elizabeth died at age 96, surrounded by family at her Balmoral estate in Scotland. Depending on who you are, this was either a national tragedy akin to losing a beloved relative, a reminder that the British monarchy was built upon a foundation of racist imperialism and theft, or somewhere in the expansive middle between those two poles.
If you’re a brand, however, the Queen’s passing is the sort of global happening best acknowledged through the ✨magic✨ of posting.
Is this ever a good idea? No, it is not. Brands exist to sell a product and then make money off those sales. They are not moral arbiters or cultural critics. They do not possess personalities that can feel empathy or grief. They are simply constructs whose sole purpose in this world is profit. And yet, time and time again, whenever there is an event big enough, or notable enough, or merely opportune enough, there they are, swarming like vultures over carrion for the sole purpose of saying “we’re participating! We’re here! Love us (and then buy our stuff)!”
This is exactly what happened after Queen Elizabeth’s death was announced, kicking off a feeding frenzy from wholly unaffected brand accounts eager to plant their flags in the fresh dirt no matter how little sense it actually made for them to be there.
The celebs got in on the action too:
But perhaps the most egregiously bizarre posts were those from not one, but two iconic theater productions that seemingly did not stop to ask themselves, “Wait, what is this show actually about again?”
There are, I suppose, some lessons to be drawn from this — maybe something about how grief affects us all differently, or how the legacy of the British monarchy is a long and complicated and frequently unpleasant one, no matter how personally affecting and admirable Elizabeth’s own life may or may not have been. Above all else, however, the sheer volume of deleted, ratioed, or otherwise justifiably derided corporate tweets set loose upon the world today are proof that it’s always better to simply log off, instead.