Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What would you say if you knew hundreds of people were listening?

Well, I should be studying, sleeping or a million other things.  What else is new.

Have you seen the new meme circulating, the one which includes, in the top panel, a picture of the bomb going off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon two days ago with a caption reading “Bomb goes off, Bomber Blamed”. In the bottom panel, there is a very famous photo of the children walking away from the school with their teacher in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting; it is captioned “School Shooting, Guns Blamed”.  

I’ll try to include it here (did it work?!), but if I can’t, everyone reading this should be able to picture the image I am talking about (which, when I’m posting this has already over 150 thousand likes on Facebook).

The image is being circulated, to my understanding, to make the point that guns (like bombs) are inanimate objects utilized by people to commit horrific crimes.  Generally, this message is being preached by people who are pro-gun rights.  Typically, the caption shared with the picture points out the flawed logic: it does not make sense to blame an inanimate object in one instance and a perpetrator in another. 

There is another example “flawed logic” with this image.  First of all, both events are tragedies.  While it is true that in the current day and age images rapidly go viral, and come to represent moments in history to a huge number of people; this is not the same as making a meme of these images less than two days after three people were killed and one hundred seventy five injured in a senseless act of violence.  (

An equally accurate meme would read, on the top panel: “Bomb goes off. This world is a terribly depressing and sad place.”.  The bottom panel: “School shooting.  This world is a terribly depressing and sad place.”.  At least we all can agree on that now, thanks to bombs, bombers, guns, gunmen and so on and so on.

In both pictures, the major focus is on people affected by the violence.  I can see the effects of the bomb, but not the bomb itself.  I can see the terror caused by the gun, but not the gun itself. The children who are captured in this image will have mental, emotional and psychological consequences of that day for the rest of their lives.  Is it really necessary to use them to make fun of a poor argument for gun legislation? Pictures of victims of crimes are not fair targets for memes or political agendas. Period.

I understand the point that the meme is trying to make but it is being made in a horribly tasteless and cold way. 

I wonder if the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 had happened today, would people be instagraming the towers as they fell? #sosad? 

Its as though instagram, facebook, pinterest, twitter, memes, and every other form of social media (that I’m sure my brother in his infinite knowledge of technology could rattle off) allow us to detach ourselves from the world around us rather than engage in it further.  Photography is a powerful art, and pictures of that day can still bring tears to my eyes.  Somehow, I doubt they would if they were made into a meme or shared on instagram. 

It seems as though my generation has forgotten that all of these social networking phenomena, are exactly that – networks. For many of us, they are more public than anything else we will ever do.  I have 530 friends on facebook.  (I had to check that before including it).  That means that whenever I share something on my facebook, at least 530 people have the potential to see it.  To be honest, 530 is a low estimate.  We all know how it works, you’re just scrolling through facebook and suddenly you’ve ended up looking at old pictures of someone that you met… once… at that thing…  It happens to the best of us.  Anyways, when I share something, I’m not thinking about the hundreds of people who could see it.  I’m thinking about what I want to say, right then.  After all, it is MY facebook post.

However, if I had the opportunity to speak to a room of hundreds of people, I’d spend months obsessing over what I was going to say. I’d make sure my diction was perfect, my message clear. So, why should social media be any different? 

Another pet peeve of mine lately has been the countless repostings of the image comparing the Dove “real beauty campaign” to the Victoria’s Secret “love my body campaign”. The trend has been to post the image and then state how much more attractive the women are in one campaign or the other. 

If you were in a room full of these women, would you feel comfortable organizing them into an ugly group and a pretty group? I would hope that the answer is no.  Generally, it is considered rude to call people ugly (even if it is by implication when you say that someone else is pretty).   So why is it suddenly okay to do this online?  Is it because they are models getting paid to be attractive?

I get paid to be a good student. It would not hurt my feelings any less if people told me I wasn’t a good student. 

The general point of the image is that beauty comes in more shapes and sizes (than either campaign properly illustrates). The point should be to teach girls that you can feel beautiful in your own body.  That applies to girls who are fat, girls who are skinny, girls who are models and girls who are not.  It’s going to be awfully difficult to do this, while posting this image. 

Obviously, no one is going to completely sensor their social media persona.  I guess, if you did that, there is no real reason to engage in social media at all… My point is this: you are accountable for what you put out there.  You aren’t anonymous.  In fact, more people probably know you by how you represent yourself on social media than how you actually are in real life.  Which one is the person you genuinely want to be?

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