Social media: The 21st-century confessional

And there should be limits to what is confessed


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By Arlene Jones


Whenever I write a column during the Thanksgiving thru Christmas holiday season, at some point I always like to write about the need for folks to speak with their young people.

In days of old, families got together more often and discussions were ongoing. But in the fast-paced world of the 21st century, the entire family getting together is becoming rarer and rarer. So when the opportunity arises, those who have wisdom need to impart it.  One of the reasons I always bring up the subject about speaking with young people is the murder rate here in Chicago. In rare instances we do have old people acting like young fools and killing one another. But the truth is that those dying and those doing the killing are young people who are usually pretty close in age. The saddest part is that far too often they are in their teenage years.

I had the opportunity to attend Danny Davis' New Year's Eve meeting where we brainstormed about what to do regarding the ongoing violence within the black community. My comment to him was that social media fuels a lot of the violence because that is where threats and counter-threats are made. When one goes to the movies, each movie has been given a rating to indicate the content. We can choose between a PG film all the way to an X-rated one. Yet people are allowed to post videos on social media with no regard to content. As social media is utilizing the public airways, there should be a method to control and limit what people can post. The controlling and limiting is based on individuals acknowledging that what they upload can have consequences.

Social media has also become the 21st-century version of the confession booth. Many young people use it to post their "truths," with no regard for the legal implications. One young man posted his picture and admitted that the gun he was holding was the one he used to snuff out another young man's life. Just because a person labels their posts as private and for their friends only doesn't mean the police are unable to view those pages. Worst are those who want everyone to see what they did/are doing.

I'm going to believe that Brittany Covington, 18,  must have been under that same delusion when she and her sister Tanishia, 24, along with Jordan Hill, 18, and Tesfaye Cooper, 18, began to film themselves torturing a victim on Facebook Live. I watched some of that video and shook my head in disgust.

At some point during the taping, Brittany admits that her younger sister tells her that what they are doing is wrong. Younger sister also tells them that they will be going to jail. Yet younger sister doesn't tell Grandma, who is later shown on television claiming the girls weren't "raised that way." Sorry, granny, but with three Covington girls (Brittany and Tanishia in person and the third one watching over the internet) all participating in the stupidity, your words don't match the actions on display. As my own granny used to say, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!"  

I haven't seen the parents of the other two individuals blasted all over the internet. But it is time that folks raising these kinds of young people be held accountable.

Lastly, when a judge can grant Jason Van Dyke bail after he shot Laquan McDonald 16 times for no apparent reason; these four should have been offered bail as well. No matter how heinous their act, it paled in comparison to the shooting death of McDonald. That judge was grandstanding for the publicity.

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