Brussels went under lockdown after a terror alert was issued, and people who were stuck in their homes decided to contact the world by tweeting cat photos. Cats currently rule the Internet, and hundreds of cat photos were tweeted out with the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown. The hilarious thing is that many Twitter users were using the photos to create a cute, fictitious narrative about what was happening in their city.
#BrusselsLockdown was originally the hashtag to use if you wanted to discuss what was happening in Belgium. However, the cat pictures took the hashtag over as people started tweeting cat pics after the Belgian federal police requested that people not discuss authorities’ movements.
Police are asking the public not to report their movements on social media, please support & rt #BrusselsLockdown
— Steven Vandeput (@svandeput) November 22, 2015
NBC News speculated that this was, perhaps, the only way for the Internet to respond to a request not to discuss the raids on social media, and it quickly went viral. The cats on #BrusselsLockdown actually had three effects: The first was enforcing the radio silence, the second was quickly burying any tweets that did mention the raids, and the third was lightening the mood in a frightened city.
— Florence (@flowindey) November 22, 2015
— Happy Cat (@HappyCatCentral) November 23, 2015
Besides, when the Internet has a vacuum somewhere—anywhere—its users will fill that vacuum with cats. That’s just a fact. #BrusselsLockdown was no exception. It received over 170,000 uses in 24 hours, with an awful lot of those uses including cats.
— Idafe Martín Pérez (@IdafeMartin) November 22, 2015
— Jeroen Flamman (@jflamman) November 22, 2015
— Harry Boone (@towersight) November 22, 2015
Even better, Brussels police joined the fray, and used #BrusselsLockdown to tweet the following, which says, “For the cats who helped us last night…help yourself!”
#BrusselsLockdown was a fantastic demonstration of how people can band together for a cause in which they may not even be aware they’re engaging. Many no doubt were just having some fun, which proved to be beneficial to the whole situation. As of this morning, Brussels had reopened after a total of four days under lockdown. Troops remain on the street, however, in a sign that the city is still on very high alert.