I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice the blatant disregard people feel for their fellow man when posting on social media. I just know that I can’t possibly be the only one to observe that posters obviously feel a sense of anonymity when they rip other people to shreds on FaceBook. And have you ventured onto Nextdoor lately? Hardly a decent representation of “love your neighbor as yourself”.
So, you’ve seen it too? How did we get here- judging, lying, condemning- over a computer connection?
Recently, I had two family members witness a woman leave her four year old on side of the road. The poor little girl had just received some fairly harsh discipline, and was quite hysterical. Naturally, my family members pulled over to protect the child and call the police. This turned into an altercation as the parents returned a few minutes later, as my family members demanded to wait on the police. One of my family members was assaulted.
Two days later the woman, who left her child on the side of the road, posted multiple videos on social media describing how my family members tried to abduct her child. She also stressed that she is five months pregnant and was assaulted- all complete with hashtags of “Save the Children”. Those videos have been shared 400 times.
The police department did not arrest my family members or find them at fault for anything. They did, however, contact Child Protective Services.
400 times. Let that sink in for a minute. Do you have any idea how many people saw those videos? Just to make it a little more impactful- she shared both of my family members social media pages, and through her comments divulged where they work. My family members have received threatening, degrading, harrassing messages from people they have never met calling them pedophiles, trash, and many other unmentionable things- requiring them to involve the police further out of fear for their lives.
Let me say that again…..THEY FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES.
Because someone who was angry, ashamed, and attention-seeking took their false case to social media, making Facebook and TikTok the judge and jury where NO ONE is innocent until proven guilty.
Please don’t suppose this post is about the act of leaving your child on the side of the road, or even about how you should handle it when you witness this happen. No, this post is about society waking up to the power that words and emotions used in an impersonal arena are having on their fellow humans.
My greatest hope as you read this is that you will consider what you post in light of what has happened to my family members. I hope that when you read others’ posts, you will consider if you are hearing both sides of a story before hitting “share”. Aren’t these the things we do when facing a confrontation in person? Don’t we seek the truth from both of our children after their squabble before pronouncing our judgement and consequences?
If you post first and think later, may I ask you to take a breath before signing on to social media? May I be so bold as to ask that of you? Could you consider the ramifications of what you may say for the people involved? And consider yourself as there could be legal consequences for you as a poster as well.
Social media injustice is real and it’s not just kids bullying each other. Adults need to step up and post responsibly. What would the social media world look like if we offered each other more dignity in our posts?
Let’s find out.