This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that families of victims find out about a tragedy or the details of a crime via WhatsApp or social media before the professionals have had the proper chance to notify them in a respectful and considerate manner. I can only imagine how hurtful it is for these families to discover details or information about their loved one’s murder online, unedited, no holds barred, instead of within a controlled environment where the professionals can manage the flow of information and the family’s reactions to such traumatic news.
It is possible that people are not aware of the great care that is taken by the army and government to contact and inform families who have suffered a loss. These professionals have been trained to be sensitive and aware of mourning customs, knowing many languages, and following a hierarchical process that includes city officers, informers, and medical experts, who take painstaking lengths to make sure they have the correct information, address, and family.
Unfortunately, whenever there is a tragedy or news item brewing within our midst, our anxiety mounts, as we continue to be glued to our screens and to the live feeds of words and ideas that often are as far from reality as can be, so much so that we might even begin to either ignore the truths as they are being publicized or fight back by defending/attacking them or the perpetrators, not sure anymore what is fake and what is real.
I personally gave up trying to defend or protest such online maniacal behavior, mostly because what I have to say is often lost in the neverending stream of tweets and posts filled regularly with opinions, more often than facts, and more imagination than even our dear old Mr. Rogers could have hoped for (sorry Mr. Rogers, for offending your pure approach to imagination just to make my point).
But since when have we lost our sense of humanity, putting so much value on freedom of speech that people feel justified to say whatever they want and to even create fake news about terrible, hurtful crimes. It is cruel for someone to share their personal unsolicited concepts of justice before the justice system has even had its turn.
The freedom to engage in online road rage, verbally poop on the world, and share our unedited ideas and thoughts makes me wonder what is brewing inside the extremely verbal part of humanity that is trolling, shaming, hurting, and sharing whatever they have deemed to be the truth, at any given moment.
We already know how important it is to have personal limitations and guidelines when it comes to any and all of our civil rights, including our freedom of speech, in order to remain a just and humane society. The world of online sharing is relatively new to mankind, often times shocking, and much of the filtering that is being applied online is retroactive or self-imposed. Social media filtering, except in extreme cases, is not a government’s priority; after all, it’s not words that kill, it’s murderers (and fake news that has fake details of crimes perpetrated), so why shoot the Facebook messenger?
The freedom of speech in this online era seems to comes with a price.
The freedom to hurt. To bully. To extort. To deny.
But with that freedom comes many other rights as well. Our right to the truth, to justice and to experience and display civilized, humane behaviour. Our freedom to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Our freedom to be social, not unsocial, on media platforms and to connect, to grow, to share and to support.
I dream of a world where my kids can live with modesty and respect, where they don’t need to be exposed to vulgar and hurtful details shared online, and can appreciate the respectful value of the sounds of silence.
As I write, the IDF is busy preparing for the destruction of the home of the terrorist who confessed to perpetrating these recent heinous crimes. A crime that we all know too many details about already. Too many, too soon.
We are living within a war of terror, a battle over land, religion and social structure. But we are also battling out a social media war online and when it comes to the loss of online privacy and respect, there are no winners.
Be respectful. Don’t be unsocial on social media. Silence is not deadly and our words can hurt.