How social media is contributing to the death toll

Facebook has become an emerging part of the criminal element cycle of this decade

Opinion

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By Arlene Jones

Columnist

On Friday, April 7 around 1:30 in the afternoon, six people were shot just south of the Green Line at the corner of Central Avenue and Corcoran. Of those shot, only one young man died. His relative is quoted as saying, "Facebook killed him. That's what did it. They boxing over Facebook. It's so stupid."

Facebook, just like street gangs, is not a physical entity. But Facebook has become an emerging part of the criminal element cycle of this decade by inciting and being the instigator/purveyor of conflicts and drama. In the past, threats and boasting by one group or individual were limited to the size of the audience in the immediate vicinity. Social media has changed all that. Now millions can see what you post and they can be anywhere all over the world.

For those who are the recipients of the derogatory comments, they no longer have to learn about it via "word of mouth." Social media has allowed it to be "in their face" and Facebook is the place to see and find it.

Facebook has several platforms that have made it the perfect vessel by which one group can intimidate or aggravate the other. Most people know about basic posting of messages. Those remarks can be vile comments that are seen as written threats of intimidation.

It is also amazing and concerning how strangers can join in commenting, some using language that is offensive. Where in person, a stranger would never jump into an argument, Facebook has made many who would otherwise be "shy and reserved" to become "bold and vocal."

Then there is Facebook Live, which streams a live action feed to an audience of friends and watchers. From the suicide of a young girl to killers proudly broadcasting their dastardly deeds, Facebook Live is going in a direction many never envisioned.

Lastly, there is Facebook Messenger, which is proving to be the most provocative of them all. Messenger allows people to contact one another privately. That contact can be via a private text message or in the form of an actual phone call. The ability of a "Facebook friend" to call is the most vexing of all. I recently experienced it when one of my male "Facebook friends" called my cellphone at 8:30 at night. I saw his name and my immediate gut reaction was to wonder why he was calling. He and I don't know each other well enough to have a verbal conversation. Thankfully, my curiosity wasn't activated, so I didn't pick up. My gut feeling told me it would be better if he left a message so I could judge if I wanted to speak with him. The man didn't leave a message.

I chalked his call up to an inadvertent action. But his actions didn't end there. Five hours later around 1:46 in the morning, he again called my cellphone. As I watched the phone ring and ring, I had visions of just how irresponsible and dangerous that phone call could be. What if someone were living with or dating a person who would follow a phone call coming in at that time of night with extreme negative behavior?

The words "That kind of call is gonna get somebody killed" went through my head as I imagined all the scenarios that could happen. Not only on the part of the person getting a call that time of night, but what if my "Facebook Friend" is dating a nutcase who sees my name and phone being called at that time of the morning? She might want to take revenge on me instead of him. I had so many "what if" scenarios go through my mind that I removed the Facebook Messenger App from my phone.

Social media was invented and designed with only positive intentions in mind. However, it is the negative uses that are leading/contributing to even worse negative actions.

How do we address it before it gets even worse?

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