He's dead, Jim. Neil Armstrong's been dead a year. (Source: NASA)
Some days, you get great examples of rumors spreading that make little sense. Other times, you get great examples of how a single news story gets misprinted or misinterpreted, and thus becomes a viral news story for absolutely no reason. Such is the case with astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. This morning, Twitter users around the country openly expressed condolences for the loss of Neil Armstrong, and have displayed public support for the legend. There is just one problem: Neil Armstrong died more than a year ago.
That is correct: Neil Armstrong passed away on August 25, 2012, at the ripe old age of 82. Armstrong's death was caused by complications following coronary bypass surgery earlier that month. The outpouring of grief and reflection was massive. Neil Armstrong received a national memorial in Washington D.C., and was eventually buried at sea with a full honor guard by the United States Navy. At the time, Twitter even had a popular hashtag going, #WinkAtTheMoon.
So why is everyone on Twitter tweeting about it now? Nobody is entirely certain. However, one theory is that ABC News accidentally reposted its original news story about Armstrong's death this morning on its mobile site, with absolutely no changes made to the story. When Twitter users saw the story, they reposted it without comment or any forethought.
That people who are into read the news and thus are supposed to be smart completely forget that Neil Armstrong died is rather disturbing. But worse is the fact that the collective memory of Twitter is so shallow that some major news event that was tweeted and retweeted for weeks is completely forgotten more than a year later. Even worse is the possibility that people did not even hear about Neil Armstrong's death in the first place, despite being connected to the internet.