Witnessing the Internet Exposing the Very Worst in People

Saturday 1441 – 15th December 2012

 Today I had planned on writing a light-hearted post entitled It seems this may well be my very last post !” It was going to be about the much heralded “end of the world” on the 21.12. 2012

Real events have taken over but indeed it must feel like the “end of the world” for those parents and loved ones of the 20 small children and 7 adults ( including the gunman) killed in the shooting at a Connecticut school in America on Friday.

As a mother, daughter and friend my heart goes out to all of them. I wish them strength to endure the grief that must surely be almost too much to bear right now and I am meditating on peace and healing for them.

This is not going to be a post about second-guessing the motive of the killer; the why’s or wherefores, which may never fully be known.

It’s a post about witnessing how people on Facebook have responded to this most terrible of events, using it to their own ends to further their ideas/causes or being just plain malicious. It has yet again made me feel a sense of deep hopelessness about the future of humanity.  I will try to keep this brief if I can but I hope you’ll stick with me to the end and add your comments.

I’ll start with the wrong information being given about who was the suspect. I heard, like everyone else, that it was a 24-year-old.  Then this was later retracted and his 20-yr-old brother, who was reported to be carrying his brother’s ID, hence the mistake, was named as the gunman. I immediately remaining sanefelt for the 24 yr old who was being blamed for the killings and did a search on Facebook to see if what I suspected might be happening was indeed happening. Sadly it was!

As well as this young man’s genuine Facebook page there were dozens of other fake pages using one or other of the 3 photos he had on his own page. Let me be clear these were fake profiles using the same name and lots of people were posting hideous comments about killing him etc etc even though by this time it had already been announced that he was not a suspect. 

2 things.. firstly how can people be so vile as to set up fake profiles at a time like this presumably in order to get some kind of personal gratification from watching the comments that ensue?  secondly how can people think it helps to make hideous comments on a Facebook page?

I felt sick because I knew it could only get worse.. I checked out his main photo and it had already been shared 10,250 times, yes that’s right 10,250 times.. I was able to view the shares and I tell you I was sick to my stomach at what people were writing, even when others were pointing out that he wasn’t the killer they were still saying heinous things about his brother, his dead mother, his father.. What gave them the right to do that? 

 So what else did I witness on Facebook about this today.

The Conspiry Theorists and Gun Lobbyists also rather used this terrible story to further their ideas/causes. Now I actually believe a lot of what the conspiracy theorists come up with but on this occasion many sites were just jumping on the bandwagon. Even though they know very well that initial reports during incidents like this, when there is widespread panic, are at best only touching on what’s really happening. Still they seem to have grasped every bit of initial misinformation and run with it.  They have come to the conclusion that it was not the young man who did the killing but that he was set up( some say he was mind-controlled) and it was the government who organised it ( as well as the other recent mass killings ) so they could ” take all the guns away from the people” leaving them easier to control – Governments seem to be doing that easily enough through financial means! 

Meanwhile the gun lobby are whipped up into a frenzy because Obama said “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” I have my own opinion on his genuineness and whether he cries when he thinks of the children killed by American drone chnia and america attackers.bombs,but I won’t go into that now.

I witnessed some defiant gun owner’s videos on Facebook and I tell you the vitriol and downright selfishness beggared belief.  I read this “guns don’t kill people, crazy people kill people”  time and time again, like some kind of mantra with no acceptance that having so many powerful guns so readily available means it’s easy for people who are mentally unwell to get access to them.

It’s a fact that 8 children/teenagers die from guns every day in America.

 Many were calling for teachers to be armed. For those in the Uk like me, who completely don’t get the gun culture in the USA, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is astonishing. Could you imagine your 7-year-old going to school with the teacher carrying a gun, who at the first sign of trouble might start spraying bullets around? Would they have gun training as part of their teacher training?  Are you people mad ?? 

What is sure is that gun sales will spike upwards; it’s been proved they always do after such incidents.

My American followers will probably have heard of Colin Goddard who survived being shot four times at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007 and has campaigned for stricter gun laws since. In the summer of  2009 he visited gun shows across America secretly filming how easy it was to purchase guns, even an AK-47 assault rifle, with no background checks and just walk away with them. Please take the 6 mins to watch his video here  (sorry I still haven’t worked out how to embed videos!)

If you are at all like me then I expect this post asks more questions, particularly about the state of human beings moral compass, than it answers.

It also makes me question if I have been right in thinking that ultimately the internet would make the world smaller and more peaceful by sharing the truth.  Today I witnessed it exposing the very worst in people and enabling them to share this and whip up others into a frenzy of selfishness, misplaced anger, hatred, gossip, lack of compassion or love and intransigence.  In fact all the things that may well have contributed to the mental state of the young man who sadly killed all those in Connecticut yesterday.

Think on that…

I want to end this sad post by saying Happy Birthday to my lovely daughter Katy and by expressing how lucky I feel today to still have both my children.

Addendum  My dear blogging friend Scilla ( you can see her comment below) has written her own very healing post please read it here  hopefully to make you feel better after reading this one of mine….

_____________

An article about Colin Goddard in the Huffington Post from Nov 2009 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-helmke/virginia-tech-survivor-wi_b_362152.html

The Brady Campaign who work for strong gun laws –   http://www.bradycampaign.org/

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Saturday Girl signing off now. I hope, despite the predictions, I’ll see you next week. I hope you’ll have a peaceful  one.

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You can find my photography blog Photomania here and I hope you’ll pop over and take a look if you haven’t already

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22 comments on “Witnessing the Internet Exposing the Very Worst in People

  1. Alex Jones says:

    Internet gives people a false sense of reality.

  2. Anita Mac says:

    Well written. It is shocking how human nature has taken to acting in this way…like creating fake info and FB sites is acceptable. I was at home to see much of the early media coverage and was sickened by how the big networks were wheedling their way in to talk to a woman in the principal’s office while the school was on lockdown! They should be ashamed. I can see the need for information and a town stricken by grief and wanting to know….but I do believe people take things too far.
    I have heard everyone throw mud at every one…the lack of mental health care, the need to ban guns, the need to arm everyone against outbreaks, the conspiracy theories…it goes on and on. At the end of the day, I think everyone needs to take a moment to think about what has happened here. It has been a tragedy of the grandest proportions. A young man with potential mental health issues let loose on a class of school children. Nothing good has come of it, and more guns is not the answer. I am not American and have a hard time with the need to bear arms, but will concede it is ingrained in their constitution…but no where in the spirt of that sacred document did it suggest the need to bare weapons of mass destruction! Take stock people! And the media need to do the same….interviewing 6 year olds after this trauma…they too should be chastised!
    Perhaps I have gone a little off topic here…I do appreciate what you have written and agree with the lunacy of it all! It is a sad reflection on society that this has become the norm!

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response Anita, I appreciate you taking the time… I agree completely with you about the media and I think this is one of the real downsides of 24 hr news where there is a constant need to fill it with something/anything.. I too weas appalled at the interviewing of the child..

  3. Team Oyeniyi says:

    It was a terrible, terrible thing and I cannot believe the reluctance to implement gun control Helen. Here in Australia we have not had one mass shooting since we implemented sane gun controls.

    Military weapons in the hands of the general public is insanity!

  4. This was really well said and done. I frequently ‘host’ discussions on my FB wall, often they can turn nasty and I have to take a hand to calm them down even banning members. Nevertheless, I think social media can be a fantastic means of communication when it is not misused. I stayed away until today though because I knew how ugly this one would be.

    Human beings simply lack empathy when they don’t have to look you in the face. I think that is the issue, the internet and sites like FB strip our compassion and empathy because we forget their our human beings behind those gravatars.

  5. Pranav Lal says:

    I am torn between the thought that as a security professional, access to weapons or the lack of it will not solve the problem. People who want to commit the crime will get guns anyhow. We will probably never know what happened. One witness reported the shooter was wearing a mask. How did school security let him through? It is easy to buy guns in India too and we do have road rage but so far, no one has gone and shot a bunch of kids. At least, it has not been reported. This does not make it any better or worse but there may be other pressures unique to the USA which are causing this shooter epidemic. See the bbcnews.com site for a timeline. Having thought some more about this, I return to doc Savage’s philosophy. Yes, a pulp fiction hero may seem inappropriate but bear with me. He believed in not using guns and the same for Agatha Christie’s POIROT. As POIROT SAYS (I am paraphrasing), “guns are too convenient.”

    As for the rest on social media, I agree. I have not seen what you say but can’t be bothered to read the filth and yes, I do see how this tragedy is being used to promote agendas. It is a tragedy and that is that. You do realize that the Internet also has people like you who try and calm feelings?

    When it comes to the fate of the human race, I’ll leave that to other people to worry about. It is too macro a problem but we can do our bit and be content.

    Do wish Katy happy birthday from me.

  6. maryisidra says:

    I am a brand new follower from Alabama. Found you through Michelle. This is a “well said” post. I got off of FB last year because of stuff like this.I really like your first cartoon thingy that is the way my mind works

    • Helen Cherry says:

      You are most welcome mary and I hope you’ll take a browse around and take a look at Photomania too..
      Thanks for commenting.. the trouble is FB is so useful too isn’t it.. yeah the cartoon is great sometimes I want to stop the world and get off or maybe get everyone else off 😉

  7. viveka says:

    You’re so right … we have to change our way of thinking and behaving too. It has gone totally out of hands – when looking at what happen in Scotland and Norway – it was adults that fire the guns.
    The thing is that if you want a gun … you will get one, but I agree that in US it’s out of control, where anyone seems has the right to protect themselves with a gun. It needs a lot more than so.
    In UK policemen are not even allowed to carry guns or pistols. Only special forces.

    FB was the platform for the problems in Belfast only a couple of weeks ago, closing FB or more control will not change things neither.

    Thanks for a great post.

  8. totsymae1011 says:

    These folk would find an outlet to be malicious with or without the internet/FB.

    • Helen Cherry says:

      Oh yes totsymae I agree the really malicious would…. but it’s so terribly easy on the internet as though people think they are involved in some huge computer game that’s not real, they act out a persona…

  9. mary mcadam says:

    iI AM AFRAID FACEBOOK GIVES A PLATFORM TO SOME VERY NASTY PEOPLE BUT ITS IMPORTANT THAT WE ARE AWARE OF THEM AND THANK GOD MOST OF US HAVE HEARTS AND COMPASSION WE MUST STICK TOGETHER TO OVERCOME EVIL

  10. scillagrace says:

    For now, just a few comments: I am glad I’m not part of the Facebook community. I felt sick to my stomach for much of the day yesterday. I’m working on how to create a peace-filled post. I want to put my energy into healing and compassion. You’ll see what I come up with…

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