If you are on social media or listening to any news program, in the Chicagoland area in particular, you have probably heard about the viral youtube video of a 17 year old boy being savagely beaten and robbed by a gang of teens in the Bridgeport area. It got millions of views before youtube pulled it down…TWICE. I was not one of those millions of views. (However, I do applaud the people who watched and immediately reported the video to the police.) Nor have I watched any of the numerous video clips that have shown up on my television and in my facebook newsfeed. Why? Because I don’t need to see it. I don’t need to have any more images of violence against children in my head. I especially don’t intend to give the assailants what they were looking for when they posted the video on youtube in the first place, attention and celebrity status. People don’t commit a crime and post it on youtube because they believe they want go to jail. They do it because they want…no scratch that, they expect they will earn 15 minutes or more of fame from it. Well, they are not getting one second from me.
But that’s not the only issue at hand. It was bad enough that this horrible incident happened, and to add insult to injury it was posted on youtube, but now there are a host of hate spewing, violence inciting video responses on youtube in reaction to the original posting. Someone has even posted the address and telephone number of one of the alleged attackers. (The one attacker who wasn’t wearing a mask, and who, with his father by his side, turned himself into the police.) His family is now fielding death threats, which are gaining momentum and fervor thanks to social media. If you are a frequent reader of my posts you know that there is nothing that I would not do in defense of children. I can certainly appreciate the wealth of emotions that have stirred up in people as a result of this hate-filled, senseless attack. But if we allow such hate to plant its’ seed and penetrate our psyches, inspiring violent rhetoric or even actions, then we are no better than the original attackers.
I love social media. I celebrate the way it can connect us all over the World. But it can have a darker effect… if we let it. So my suggestion, don’t let it. Don’t watch these kinds of videos. Don’t share these video links. Instead share the written news story. (Trust me, your friends don’t have to see the video to be outraged by the act.) You will still be keeping you friends in the know, but you won’t be increasing the youtube Klout of miscreants like those who created this particular video. Keep your screen clean and your conscience too. We will all be better for it.