Last night at around 11:30, an aftershock with a magnitude of over 7 hit northeast Japan. The area, Tohoku, was ravaged last month by another quake and ensuing tsunami that left thousands dead and many more homeless. As the quake shook the country, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada, like many others, took to Twitter.
Wada tweeted, "Another earthquake? People of Tohoku, hang in there!" His remarks are fairly innocuous - even more so when translated into English. But in their original Japanese, a language which has a strict separation of formal and informal speak, this remarks could come off as somewhat flip.
Over a hundred people were injured by last night's quake. Two individuals were killed.
Of course, Wada wasn't intending to be lighthearted. Tone can sometimes be very hard to convey, especially through Twitter. The Japanese internet erupted, accusing Wada of not expressing the appropriate gravitas towards the earthquake. Others simply said his comments pissed them off. "His style of writing is inappropriate," wrote one netizen.
Wada quickly apologized for an unpleasantness his comments caused, adding that he made hasty comments after being surprised how strong the quake was. Good for Wada for clarifying where he was coming from.
The internet and social media might bring us closer together, but that doesn't mean it's getting any easier to communicate.