Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks - I will give you a brief synopsis of the much publicized Casey Anthony case and subsequent trial.
Casey Anthony had a daughter, Caylee. It is a fact that Casey didn't report her daughter missing for a month after Calyee "disappeared." It is a fact that during this month Casey repeatedly ventured out and acted like nothing was amiss, even to those closest to her. It is a fact that she repeately lied to pretty much everyone about where her daughter was. It is also a fact that she covered up the disappearance (and death) of her daugther in some way or another. The rest - isn't so much as a fact as really, really convicing evidence. But obviously not convicing enough to warrant a murder conviction. Yesterday Casey Anthony was found not guilty of almost every charge brought against her, except for providing false information to the police - which carries little if no jail time.
So in the wake of this surprising verdict - I did what has become my new habit whenever a huge news story breaks...I turned to Facebook to gauge my friend's reactions. I should really know better by this point. I was shocked, horrified and eventually perplexed at the reaction of some people to this trial. Mean things. Violent things. Offensive things.
It's the same people that were posting such violent, vigilante ideas in the wake of Osama Bin Laden's death. It's as if Facebook has become the new town square where instead of pitchforks and torches people pass out status updates and hateful posts...and it scares me.
Is it the anonymity of the Internet that encourages people to so boldy proclaim their ideas? Or has there been societial shift in values that says that it's OK to say whatever you want, regardless of the audience? When did we become so empowered to lay judgement on events and situations that we have little to no first-hand involvement in?
Perhaps the constant availablity of information, videos and articles on every single news-worthy event has created an over-inflated sense of ownership of current events. Perhaps people always responded this personally and strongly, yet their harsh words were confined to living rooms in front of the nightly newscasts. Facebook has redefined our culture in the past few years - yet I'm begning to feel like the vehicle of our online communications and identites is slowly taking us down roads harmful to our fellow man.
When will the movement away from the internet begin? Every advancement in online technology brings us closer, more connected (electronically - that's a huge distinction), and better informed - but at what cost? Every new service offered makes sense, it makes things easier - they're all seemingly good things.Yet if the cost for these luxuries is an ever increasing mob mentality and blanket permission to proclaim messages of hate under the banner of self expression - I'm not sure I'm ready to pay that price.
In reality, I don't know what it is. I can't say for sure why people say or act the way they do. I have my guesses - but they are just that. I refuse to believe people that post such hateful things are hateful themselves - just as I refuse to believe that someone who commits evil acts is completely evil. Instead we must seek the "why" and the "how did we get here" and hope that by finding these things out - we also find a compassion for those who judge, need be judged or are awaiting judgement.