Earlier this week (January 2017) a young man was abducted by four young people in Chicago. They tied him up and tortured him. They ran a live stream of the violence on Facebook Live. Does this surprise you? What do you expect from a culture that makes light of violence?
Facebook Live is a derivative of Meerkat and Periscope where you can use the video function of your smartphone to create a live feed that you can show on your Facebook page. Facebook Live is a portal where any person who has access to your FB page can watch what you’re doing while you are doing it.
Facebook Live is every person’s opportunity to create their personal reality TV show. And there is no cost to the provider or the consumer. In the case of the Chicago torture, it’s “pay-per-view MMA” without the pay.
As you would imagine, it went viral–the video and the aftershocks. They arrested the four torturers. The victim was found wandering the Chicago streets. He is receiving treatment, though he’ll carry the scars of the two-day ordeal for the rest of his life.
The four who committed the crime were black and the victim was white and mentally challenged. If there is a twisted upside to this, it’s that the assailants were not white and the victim was not black. Chicago would be half looted and burned today if that were the case.
Race and hate
The two main talking points are racism and hate crimes. No surprise. And, I agree; it is racism and hate played out in the public square. No one should dismiss these two talking points.
But because they are always the primary talking points, things are not going to change. White people will continue to stew and grow in their bitterness toward blacks and black people will push the mute button on the Chicago torture because they can.
The only thing that will change is the racial divide, which will widen. White people will hold on to their “justified” racism, and black people will wait until it happens to them so they can riot (or kneel when someone plays our national anthem).
My two thoughts about this are not racism and hate crimes. I’m not dismissing them because they are real, but my mind does not stay there. Racism and hate crimes are symptoms anyway, so talking about those things ad nausea does not help. It only deepens historical white racism and affirms the black person’s “right” to destroy something. The two things I thought about regarding this latest commentary on America were:
- What did you expect? Or, why are you surprised?
- Our problem is deeper than racism and hate crimes.
What did you expect?
Movies – Every summer the world (or a city) is blown to smithereens. I have lost count on how many times someone destroyed the world. New York City has been destroyed so many times that it does not matter anymore. Today’s child has no patience or appetite for a slow moving movie that develops its characters.
MMA – Then there is the brutality of sports. Last week Amanda Nunes knocked Ronda Rousey into next week. Twitter could not keep up with the millions of commenters, most of whom enjoyed her getting her block knocked off.
NFL – Also last week, two NFL quarterbacks broke their fibulas. Another player was out for a sixth game because of a concussion. These three NFL incidents are three needles in a haystack of violence that most sport’s fans do not care enough about to stop watching it.
Gaming – Throw in two generations of fake violence pumped out to the gaming community that is so real that the lines between truth and fiction are meaningless. Not to mention the dulling of the conscience to where video violence is okay.
Then you have the disinhibition effect. Social Media is the world where people are less inhibited to say and do things, especially mean or provocative things because it’s cyberspace, not real space.
A person can undress for social media but never consider such a lewd act in the real world. A person will say some of the harshest things on Facebook but never say them face to face. Social Media has a way of letting down walls and presuming on relationships more quickly than any other place in the world.
When violence saturates the culture to the point of casual acceptance and the average person has unlimited access to an uninhibited medium, what do you think is going to happen?
The problem is deeper.
Playing the racism card is easy. Again, I’m not dismissing that card. It’s real, and both sides are guilty as sin. However, if you want a solution, you have to go deeper than the talking points of racism and hate crimes.
It’s even deeper than ignorance. What the assailants did was ignorant. It was stupid. But you have to ask, why are people so ignorant that they don’t care about another human? What would possess another person to do harm to someone else?
- Is it racism? Of course, it is.
- Is it ignorance? Of course, it is.
- Is it the disinhibition effect? Of course, it is.
But let’s go deeper. Racism, ignorance, and disinhibition are behavioral realities that find life and sustainability in the heart. People who dislike other people are fundamentally flawed in the heart.
I see this all the time when white Christians cringe when thinking about their precious white daughters marrying black men, even if the person she marries loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. I know some white men who would rather have their daughters marry white pagans or nominal white Christians than marry a black God lover.
I also see this by how some Christians talk about the gay community. They recoil like the bigoted white father thinking about his daughter marrying the black guy. The hate that comes out of some Christians’ mouths about the gay community is shocking.
What the black racist, white bigot, and gay or Christian hater have in common is they do not understand how God made humanity in His image. It’s like all the paintings in the Louvre are angry with each other as though one painting is better than the other. The same painter created all of us. Nobody is better than any other person.
- Because we have destroyed the world so many times with our blockbuster movies, we have dumbed down what it means to love others more than ourselves.
- Because we have created a CGI world that blurs the lines between true and false, what does it matter if we kill a person in a video game or on Main Street?
- Because sporting events are more important than sporting fatalities, we are not bothered when they cart a fellow image bearer off the field. I mean, we are not worried unless his loss becomes our loss. Most fans first response is about whether the team will win the championship. Winning and losing is what matters. The combatants are replaceable. We call them “pieces” anyway.
Until we see each other as fellow image bearers, we will continue to abort our babies. We will still be racists. We’ll still divide our marriage partners by color. We will still perpetuate big and little sinner gradations so we can look down on those who sin differently from us.
Call to action
My call to action is not to change the world. That is not going to happen. I’m a realist. My call to action is much smaller in scope. My target audience is you.
- Are you a racist? What kind of person do you dislike?
- Do you separate people by other categories than Christian and non-Christian?
- Do you dislike non-Christians, as though some other person than your Heavenly Father created them?
On the disinhibition effect: Do you say or do things on Social Media that you would not do if the person were standing in front of you, in your living room? E.g., are you harsh or critical to people on Facebook? Rather than talking to them privately, do you rebuke them in the public “cyber” square?
Also published on Medium.