These thoughts have been laying heavy on my heart tonight. I wasn’t sure if they were appropriate to share, but I’m a blogger, so what the hell, here they are.
Those from my hometown know exactly why I’m writing this. I won’t say his or her name out of courtesy, but a former classmate recently had a mugshot blasted on social media. The news of this person’s accusations (and if he or she is found guilty, actions) just hurt to hear. But the countless shares, likes, Facebook reactions, and horrible, horrible comments, those broke my heart. I can’t even imagine what this person is going though, seeing what feels like the entire hometown turning against them. I’m not justifying this person’s actions. Really, I’m not even standing up for this individual. But what’s happening is honestly just plain wrong.
I’m guilty, and so are You
I am a guilty person. I have broken the law, a lot. I’m not proud. I roll through the stop sign at the intersection of Slab and 256 pretty regularly. I’m guilty of jaywalking. I’ve driven through those 3am Tuesday morning red lights. I’ve slandered others. The pettiness of my crimes don’t change the fact that I’m wrong, and criminal. You’ve been wrong plenty too, and you know it. We just never got caught. Do you find joy in seeing others do wrong? In seeing others be humiliated? In hurting someone whose heart is already hurting? In a week, you’ll completely forget about this. But years from now, that ‘villain’, will still remember. Are your five minutes of laughter worth their pain and humiliation?
Your Words Live on Forever
Please consider the significance of your words. Do you realize that you aren’t just putting down this wrongdoer, you’re also painting a bad picture for your community. “_____ County’s finest right here. This shithole is just full of (drug addicts / killers / bad parents / alcoholics / general idiots).” You’re putting a massive weight on this person’s shoulders? Does this one individual’s actions define the entire community? Of course not.
Show some Love and Compassion
This person (and every other person whose mug goes viral) does not deserve this. They are at the lowest point in their lives, and your crude, horrible jokes are simply kicking them when they’re down. Even a simple share racks up the total number of views. I’ve never had a mugshot taken, but I’ve been bullied online to the point I almost didn’t make it. The harsh words hurt, but the sheer number of people jumping me is what about got me. I know, the person was obviously in the wrong to be arrested, but an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth just leaves the entire world blind and hungry. Please a compassionate person. Reach out to him or her. Show some love even in the darkest part of their life.
If you really want to let someone know about an arrest- pick up your phone and call them, or visit their home and tell them in person. If you don’t know the number or address, then there’s no reason for you to be sharing this information with them. Gossip makes you no better than those charged guilty.
Look, I’m not putting down police stations for sharing arrest information and photos online. That’s really no different than sharing information in the newspaper. It is different however, for you to share and spread this information further than it should go.
I know you have a right to free speech, you’re free to say and share whatever you’d like, but please, consider your words, and consider a little love, compassion and mercy.