With Michael Schumacher still in critical condition in a hospital in Grenoble, Ferrari fans Friday demonstrated their support for the seven-time world champion by holding a vigil outside with messages of well-wishing on the day of his 45th birthday, according to Reuters.
Given the need to keep roads clear and disruptions down to a minimum for the hospital to cope for other skiing-related accidents, many saw this vigil as inappropriate despite its obviously good intentions.
But a seemingly far more innocuous posting on Twitter and Instagram of Lewis Hamilton enjoying a winter skiing break has caused an uproar, with fans accusing him of being "arrogant" and "insensitive," according to Maria Tadeo of The Independent.
According to the paper, one Instagram user posted, "Very insensitive Lewis-while Schumacher is in a coma." Another said: "He is my favourite but this could have waited, these posts are not necessary at this hour,” and, yet another, "Be careful, think of Schumi and his condition right now."
In Hamilton’s defence, and having looked at his Twitter account, many of his skiing-related photos were posted before Schumacher’s accident, after which Hamilton tweeted, “Mine & my families prayers & thoughts are with Michael & his family. I wish him a quick recovery. God Bless him. The Hamiltons.” And only one further picture of Hamilton on a snowmobile appears after that.
It does seem a gross overreaction on the part of some fans, and it would appear likely that there would be many more who see no deliberate offence in a man posting pictures of himself enjoying a well-earned break.
One of his supporters said (per Tadeo): "He's not going to postpone his winter training just because of Schumacher. His fans want to see what he's up to. Why would you wear a helmet for cross country? Even in the Olympics they wear just a hat!"
The Daily Mail's Rebecca Evans and Alexandra Williams also ran a story on the incident and quoted more comments of fans who saw absolutely nothing wrong with what Hamilton did.
One wrote: "He has only posted one photo of him skiing and in that he had a helmet on. The other photos are of him hiking or cross-country skiing or walking. Is everyone to stop posting photos of snowy vistas or skis full stop? Grow up please."
And another: “He’s walking on snow. Not skiing. The others are cross-country which is like walking on snow too. Michael’s injury is awful but that shouldn’t stop anyone else enjoying the snow.”
So were Hamilton’s pictures inappropriate?
Of course, everyone is going to have their own opinions on the matter, and the medium of social networking enables fans to directly interact with celebrities and voice their opinions.
And here’s mine: What happened to Michael Schumacher was a tragic accident and, god willing, he will pull through. But it should not mean that life for others, even those directly involved in the sport, should come to a standstill.
Hamilton clearly meant no offence by what he did, has voiced his support for his former rival and should be allowed to move on.