Facebook is a genuine phenomenon. Founded by Mark Zuckerberg and others on February 4, 2004, it has emerged as a major factor in popular culture, and more than a few people have become addicted to it. Like anything else in life, it has its good qualities as well as the bad.
Unfortunately, one of the worst usages of Facebook occurred recently. A man murdered another man on Facebook Live, one of the newer aspects of the platform. Facebook Live allows the public to follow along with a poster’s experiences in real time, in a live stream. Thirty-seven-year-old Steve “Stevie Steve” Stephens, a Black man, randomly shot and killed another Black man, 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr., in cold blood in Cleveland, Ohio.
Incredibly, after doing that, he posted another Facebook Live video boasting about what he had done, adding that he had killed at least 13 other people and that he was on his way to kill more until he gets caught! He blamed his morbid spree on his estranged girlfriend, Joy Lane. He also blamed his mother, Maggie Green, because he said that she wouldn’t listen to him when he went to her in distress to discuss his issues.
A lot of people are blaming Facebook Live for this situation, and are calling on its administrators to remove it from the Internet. In other words, take away a tool that can be used for beneficial purposes because someone who is undoubtedly unhinged misused it. Make no mistake; this was a horrible, horrible crime. But any tool in the hands of the wrong person can be turned into something very unpleasant.
There have been others who have misused Facebook Live. Recently a 15-year-old girl was gang raped and the event was captured on this media tool.
The foregoing situations serve as bellwethers of the social climate in America. Yes, racism abounds, as do other forms of social dysfunction, but both cases mentioned above point to Black on Black brutality with nary a white person in sight. Something is happening in our communities. These crimes are symptoms of some deeper maladies that threaten to tear the fabric of our communities apart.
One of the unique things about Facebook, and other social media platforms in general, is its ability to instantaneously bring disparate people together; one can instantly become “friends” with others elsewhere in the world.
It must be understood, however, that the overall nature of an individual’s online experience is directly connected to the kind of people known by the individual.
In other words, Facebook serves as a mirror of who you are; it is a reflection that is unique to you. It is the expansion of your sphere of social connections. If you are a gangster, there will be a lot of gangsters and others of that ilk in your Facebook experience. If you are a high school student, your Facebook feed will probably include other students and will cross paths with few, if any, senior citizens. That doesn’t mean that it won’t ever happen, however. Further, if you are a highly “spiritual” person, you won’t have thugs muggin’ on your page holding guns and smoking blunts. In other words, you will meet yourself on social media.
With that said, Steven Stephens, the Facebook Live murderer was the subject of a massive manhunt until he was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. As a result, he has left an indelible mark on the fabric of America, and especially, on Black America.
It is time that we speak up and embrace truth; as long as our society protects wrongdoers by shielding them from authorities, or blames social media for what people do, we can only continue on a downward spiral until we wake up and realize that there IS a spiritual dimension to life; that there are consequences for certain types of unsavory behavior. Life will always happen, and because of this, we can expect physical, social and emotional challenges.
But ultimately, attitudes are more important than circumstances; it is not what happens to us, it is how we respond to circumstances that counts. Let’s stop blaming everyone but ourselves and take back our communities. A luta continua.