Neil Armstrong died Saturday at the age of 82. Most Americans instantly recognized his name as that of the astronaut who became the first human to step foot on the moon. Others sadly mistook him for the lead singer of American punk band Green Day.
As word of Armstrong's death began to spread around the Internet, naïve young people took to Twitter to express their sympathies that Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of one of their favorite bands, had passed away. Hundreds of people retweeted this post:
"RIP Neil Armstrong. Green Day won't be the same without you."
It's hard to tell which user actually started the tweet, but within hours of his death, this post was found in hundreds of Twitter streams. Similar tweets were also posted.
In addition to people mistaking Neil Armstrong the astronaut for Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, a smaller number of users mistook him for TV actor Neil Patrick Harris, and cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has made headlines lately due to losing his titles after he was convicted of doping during his career.
This meme featuring a photograph of How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris is currently making its way around social networking websites such as Tumblr and Twitter. The graphic reads "Rest in peace Niel Armstrong - Vocalist of Green Day."
As the false reports of Billie Joe's, Harris' and Lance's deaths made the rounds, other vocal Twitter users began to correct and taunt those who made such ludicrous statements:
RIP Neil Armstrong from Green Day, great man, not to be confused with Billie Joe Armstrong the astronaut.
— Eduardo Castillo (@castillo_o) August 27, 2012
R.I.P Neil Armstrong - won Tour de France 7 times,survived cancer, life of Green Day, gave us shows like How I Met Your Mother.
— Viku (@niteshwasnik) August 27, 2012
RIP BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY AND NEIL ARMSTRONG, LEAD SINGER AND BASIST OF GREEN DAY AND RIGHT AFTER THEY WERE STRIPPED OF THEIR MEDALS. — Eli Cadwallader (@NoFriendsEli) August 27, 2012
Boss's daughter thought Neil Armstrong was the lead singer of Green Day. Yes, this country is screwed....
— C.J Ashling (@Ashling574) August 27, 2012
I sincerely hope that the people who are posting "R.I.P. Neil Armstrong, singer of green day" are just trolling. Please... Please say yes.
— Patterns Of Myra (@patternsofmyra) August 26, 2012
It's really a sad state of affairs when people who have gone through or are going through the American educational system know more about a vocalist than one of the greatest heroes in American history. While it's entertaining to poke fun at those who make such ignorant statements, it's moments like these that remind us just how far the U.S. has fallen in terms of education. As of 2010, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has given us an average title in terms of overall education, ranking us 14th out 34 in reading skills, 17th in science, and 25th in math.