Social Media – the tool of 21st century vigilantes

social media vigilante

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A week ago, I published a post “Why rioters should not use social media” it was more about the St.Patricks day riots in London Ontario than social media, but I included the question:

  • Will social media become the tool of choice for vigilantes in the 21st Century?

I did not realize that within just a few days we would see a very clear indication that it already has.

My original post raised the question from the perspective that social media would assist a vigilante type campaign to spread when the authorities would not take action against major examples of unlawful activity.

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin has set the social media platforms on fire. At this stage the only person who really knows what happened in that incident is George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch guard who allegedly shot him and who is now in hiding in fear for his life – it appears with good reason.

Whether he was or was not justified in pulling the trigger, whether the police have acted correctly in not arresting him or not are all at this stage, conjecture. No one, least of all the mainstream media, the thousands on twitter or face book or any one else KNOWS the real story.

The killing of a teenager under any circumstances is tragic and I can understand his parents demand for justice.

My concern is not with the incident itself. I am not going to fall into the same trap so many others feel comfortable with. Until the authorities have completed their investigations, none of us should be acting as judge, jury and executioner.

My difficulty is that this is a blatant case of the power of social media being abused for political ends. The announcement of a bounty for the apprehension of Zimmerman, howls of racism hurled at any one daring to suggest that the real story might be different to the politically popular one. Selective reporting and usage of photographs purposefully chosen to show the victim looking younger, all add fuel to the flames of potentially misplaced indignation.

As a relative newcomer to North America and a victim of serious racism myself, I am not yet sufficiently cowed by political correctness to be afraid to ask the question that no one else dares.

  • What would have been the situation if the races of the two had been reversed?
  • What if the victim had been a Native American and the alleged shooter a Black person?
  • What if both had been from minority groups much lower down the scale of political sensitivity? – Few will admit but most will recognise a scale does exist.
  • Why do I not recall anywhere near as much hysteria after OJ Simpson was acquitted?

I am always ready to criticise big government, political correctness and run-a-way socialism, I believe social media is a useful and legitimate tool to publicise that criticism, as it is for those at the other end of the political spectrum to attack the policies and causes I support. Criticising the actions of people is one thing, using social media to offer bounties and call for direct physical action against them before they have had their day in court, is only one step removed from the hanging tree of the wild west.

Most responsible people condemn vigilantes, we need to remember the dangers before we jump to conclusions, pass judgement and demand retribution without knowing all the facts.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.

Peter Wright

p.s. have you discovered the homeless van man’s secret to internet success? (affiliate link)

Image: duron123 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  7 comments for “Social Media – the tool of 21st century vigilantes

  1. March 29, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    This is probably going to be a controversy comment in itself. I can see all of your points. I agree, that we shouldn’t be the judge of people, or be quick to be the vigilante. While I think that sometimes it’s necessary, is it really all that necessary? You could be taking down an innocent man, then someone else takes you down for being a prick. It’s a vicious cycle. In my experience with dealing with people and seeing people’s reactions, many people bring on Racism and other things themselves. The way I see it, there are two different kinds of people. Civilized and Animalistic Trash. If you want to act like an animal, than why should people treat you any different? Treat yourself, how you wish to be treated. Have respect for yourself and others, and you’ll do just fine. Wear baggy clothes, wear your pants down below your butt, grabbing yourself in public, are all viable signs for people to attack you. I’m not saying that people should attack anyone like that. All I’m saying is if you want to be treated with respect, first you have to earn it.

    • March 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      God points Roger, regrettably most of us, and I am certainly as guilty as anyone, find it difficult to have much respect for people who behave like idiots or dress in a manner generally associated with criminals for example.

  2. March 29, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    There is no doubt that social media can be used for immediate good and bad in today’s world. Just look at Obama for example. No matter how you slice it he did use social media to win the election. One thing to keep in mind when positioning yourself for a specific cause on the Web is that you can quickly become the identified target to eliminate should the wrong individual get ahold of your content. Understanding the risks involved will without question help you to experience pain relief from the results.

  3. March 29, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    There is no doubt that social media can be used for immediate good and bad in today’s world. Just look at Obama for example. No matter how you slice it he did use social media to win the election. One thing to keep in mind when positioning yourself for a specific cause on the Web is that you can quickly become the identified target to eliminate should the wrong individual get ahold of your content. Understanding the risks involved will without question help you to experience pain relief from the results.

  4. March 29, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    You’re certainly right that we should not rush to judgement before all of the facts are in. However from all that I have seen and read, it appears to me that the guy murdered a teenager. I find it very difficult to defend that.

  5. March 29, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    You’re certainly right that we should not rush to judgement before all of the facts are in. However from all that I have seen and read, it appears to me that the guy murdered a teenager. I find it very difficult to defend that.

    • March 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      Quite right, I would also find it difficult to defend the murder of a teenager or any one else for that matter. The point I was trying to make is that the vast majority of comment in social media has been based on the assumption that it was murder in the absence of many concrete facts.

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