Opinion: Social Media Has Made Us Judge, Jury, and Executioner
Thank goodness court cases are not decided based on what people have to say on social media or everyone would be found guilty and the punishments would be cruel.
Social media has given people the unabashed confidence to voice their unfiltered and unwanted opinion. Everyone is an expert and everyone thinks that their opinion is a fact. When a story makes headlines of a crime, the comment threads are filled with people thinking that they know better than the authorities and express the punishment the suspect should receive. It's a good thing society has moved away from public stonings.
My mind frequently drifts to one of my favorite plays, The Crucible. Without any concrete evidence, 19 innocent people were hung and one was pressed to death. Today, many would express their bafflement towards such acts. If you read comments on social media today, you can see how this could happen.
This week a 5-year-old girl went missing. A subsequent Amber Alert was issued and the story was shared all over social media. When the story first broke, people expressed their concern for the child's safety. Many shared their thoughts and prayers for the family.
A few Amber Alerts and articles later, now the cynics rule the comments. Multiple articles have been published stating the authors' opinions, some believe there is more to the story and the mother is at least partially guilty. The comments are filled with people judging the young girl's mother's emotion on camera. The family is being dissected.
What if you are wrong? What if your cold accusations are found incorrect? We struggle with the idea that we are wrong. However, we have been and will continue to be wrong throughout our lives. If you are wrong, put yourself in the place of this mother. Her daughter has been kidnapped and now anytime she goes online, watches the news, or listens to the radio she is being blamed. Could you even begin to imagine how that would feel?
Have we completely lost our capability for empathy?
Social media has taken away our empathy and left us cold and cynical. We have thrown out the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." We hide behind our keyboards, cruel cowards just waiting to hang the next person in a long line of victims.