When it comes to politics, mass shootings, terrorist attacks etc., I usually never allow myself to comment on social media platforms because I find it fleeting and it really doesn’t make a difference. Nothing I say, no matter how factual, will change anyone’s opinion and that’s fine. I’m not here to change anyone’s opinion or world views on any subject.
But I am tired; I am damn tired. Today’s news and media forums are like a fungus. It grows and it festers and no matter how hard you try to get rid of a fungus, it will always prevail and grow back stronger and more hellish than before. I watched the viral video that is circulating on the Myrtle Beach shooting and I need to say a few things. While it would be far too easy for me to expand on each of the following points to include a broader scope on the “big picture,” I will try and keep it strictly related to this particular incident. This isn’t a term paper and if I start opening too many doors on inequalities and privilege I am afraid I may never close them.
The viral video was taken by an amateur on a cell phone, as are most viral videos today. The Facebook Live video was taken and narrated by Bubba Hinson, a vacationer and volunteer firefighter. Where do I begin? Hinson can be heard in the background as he describes the “mob” of people walking down the side of the highway. When a fight breaks out he starts giving us a play by play of the fight and then of the shooting. “Fight, fight, fight!” and “Shot!” and “Officer down!” spew from his mouth like an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. He then goes on to say that the “Officer” discharged his weapon first, a point he makes more than once in the video. Only after shots have been fired and people are down on the ground, does he tell a friend to call 911. You can hear someone in the background say, “I know CPR.” However, it is said with a hint of jubilance like the situation itself isn’t a serious one.
While I understand that there were already cops in the area, and I understand that video footage can be used to help determine facts of an incident, I can’t help but take issue with the total disregard of the individual taking the video and the other bystanders who were watching. We, as a society, have become completely desensitized to violent acts that happen before our very eyes. People would rather catch things on video and wait until the chaos has calmed down before calling for help.
This man is a volunteer firefighter and his first instinct was to video the entire incident. He also falsely accuses the “Officer” of starting the shootout which is so clearly not the case. And in a world where racial tension is extremely prevalent, his accusation just adds another tinder to that ever growing fire that continues to divide the races. Race and misinformation aside, Hinson is quoted as saying, “I always wanted a viral video, but I never wanted it to be like this.” I call bullshit on that. Because going viral requires the extreme. It requires something completely original and new, or of a person doing something completely insane like using an active drill to eat a piece of corn, or a violent mass shooting/terrorist attack. So this is exactly what “going viral” is all about and that’s why he continued to film.
After I watched the video, I read the comments. There are soooo many comments; FB Live has opened up an entirely new platform for public debate and there are no surprises. The script in the thread of comments is as predictable as the sun setting each night. I feel like every time something like this happens, the universe just copies and pastes comment threads under each new incident. It always comes down to race:
“Act like Monkey’s, get shot like Harambe.”; “That’s what’s wrong with America. Send them back to where they came from.”; “Bring back the chain gang.” And so many different variations of “Animals!”
There were hundreds of incredibly racist comments. I could fill a book with all of the hate being distributed but I can’t stomach typing some of the things I read. Here’s the thing though… Did I watch a different video? Because I am 100% positive that I counted at least four white people in that “mob.” There were probably more and there could have very well been people of Spanish and Asian descent in there as well. The video quality was grainy at best so can we really be sure of the race of every single person in that group? Are we just going to pretend that there were no white people there?
The FACTS. I have found that most people aren’t a huge fan of factual evidence/findings. It’s hard for most people to be shown cold, hard evidence and just accept it. We have been programmed to read between the lines and to accept whatever the worldwide web chooses to tell us. So even before it was made clear that the “Officer” didn’t shoot first, there were plenty of people who jumped on the bandwagon and wanted to point the finger at the “Officer.”
To be clear, it was not a police officer who shot first. In fact, there was no police officer. There was an armed security guard who decided to check out the commotion who received a graze wound from a bullet. Only after the suspect fired shots did the security guard open fire. But because of Hinson’s comments, there were people coming out of their skin ready to attack the “Officer” who shot first. Cries of corrupt police and how all cops deserve that fate because they must all be twisted and trigger happy. Do you see where I’m going with all of this? The complete lack of compassion for those that were injured? People were shot and bleeding on the ground but all we can focus on is the competition of who the worst human is.
It’s a never ending battle and with viral videos being all the rage, it’s only going to get worse. People have zero fear behind a keyboard and they really show their true colors when something like this happens. And most of the time, facts aren’t presented clearly or you are only seeing a portion of an actual incident. So many people take a three minute video as the end all be all and completely ignore the fact that there is always a beginning, a middle, and an end.
So there’s my rant. I am saddened and I can honestly say that it hurts my soul when I watch things like the Myrtle Beach shooting and its aftermath. It’s why I usually stay silent because all I can do sometimes is reflect. But this angered me this morning. It always angers me but I guess today was the day I just couldn’t keep quiet. The incident itself and the reactions to it are a vicious circle and one that is incredibly repetitive.
There will never be change because too many people don’t want change. It’s as simple as that. So I will do my small part by voicing the injustices and the double standards when I can. I will stand up for those that can’t when something is brought up in my presence. I will choose to help if I am ever faced with a situation like Myrtle Beach versus taking a video and adding my commentary. I can stand alone but I can also stand with you, beside you, if you share the same hope for healing a divide.