Social media and anti-social behavior

People should start thinking more about the consequences of their digital behavior

Opinion

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By Arlene Jones

Contributor

I've never made it a secret that I enjoy social media. Facebook is my favorite although I am now finding myself drawn to Twitter because it tends to have more relevant things tweeted (and that may only be due to my limited followings there). Black Twitter has made a name for itself by being at the forefront of many issues that negatively affect the black community.

Recently a guy who used the Facebook handle "Geris Hilton" (real name Gerod Roth) took a selfie with his co-worker's young black son pictured in the background. Gerod's friends immediately began to write snide comments about the child, ranging from slavery innuendos to the child being the poster kid for a "feed the children" campaign. Well, Gerod's employer was notified about the posts and Gerod is now unemployed, as are several others who posted comments on his page. As I saw many on Facebook post their support for the child and his mother and express righteous indignation over what had happened, I was in complete agreement.

One of the things I have noticed over the past year is that the number of memes (photos captioned with sayings), involving little children along with a profanity-laced message, had been virtually non-existent for a while. In the past, my contention has been that when we see those memes, even if they are funny, we are at the same time making an innocent child into an adult. That to me is a very dangerous and slippery slope that can lead to people believing a young child actually has that kind of thought process.

The situation also reminded me of the incident from earlier this year when a young black girl at Brookfield Zoo posted a video to Facebook talking about "rude ass white people." She too ended up losing her job. Looking back at some of the comments made at that time, some people lamented her firing. There were those who defended her actions by talking about the "privacy" of her FB post. Or that hers was merely the "stupidity" of youth.

In either case, social media has proven its power to end employment, which will become worse as time goes on because privacy is not controllable when there are friends and friends of friends who will report on what one does.

Young people are not the only ones who act "stupid" on social media. The recent shooting by the black guy in Oregon (unlike OJ Simpson where there was an uproar from the black community over the darkening of his image, little has been said about the lightening of his skin tone to make him appear whiter) is unsettling. The media has focused most of its attention on his absent white father ('cause if the man had been around, he would have known about the guns in the household) as opposed to his black mother with whom he lived. She has been known to post on social media boasting of the weapons she owns. With the millions upon millions of guns in this country, I agree that assault weapons and military grade weapons should not be in the hands of the average person. But there is not a single law that can be instituted that will take existing guns from out of the hands of people who currently own them.

The combination of availability (made by supposedly "sane" adults) of weapons to those who have mental problems are one of the reasons we have people going into schools and shooting them up. I go beyond the sheriff in Oregon that not only should the person's name not be known, the shooter's body should be given to science so that burial and all of its rituals is not an option. That person's remains should never be given a final resting place but be the garbage in death that reflects the garbage they were in life. 

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