Last year, I was sitting in the McDonald’s parking lot eating two breakfast burritos as I prepared for another boring and monotonous day in what I happily refer to as my life.
As I had just completed cleaning the crumbs of the second burrito, I heard what initially sounded like a dump truck emptying a load of gravel; however, the scraping sound was much more intense and longer than any truck I had ever heard and as I raised my head to find the source of the noise, I was horrified to discover a pickup truck scraping across the road in front of me on its top before bouncing onto its side into the median of the highway.
I quickly made myself to the wrecked vehicle in order to offer any assistance I could while first responders were in route — the driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt and had been pinned to the passenger side of the vehicle.
As we awaited an ambulance and attempted to reassure the driver, telling him not to move while we waited for emergency crews, I briefly turned around and to my astonishment a crowd of some half-dozen people had gathered around the carnage. But rather than any of them asking if they could offer assistance, they were each holding a cell phone taking photos and live-streaming what eventually became a fatal accident.
As I watched at the passing motorists all slow down to take a picture and some even stop to get a better shot, my confidence in humanity plunged to its lowest point.
What have we become as a society? I’m old enough to remember the age before cell phones and social media (yes, this sounds funny to say, but the truth is that an entire generation of young adults isn’t old enough to remember life before camera phones) and back in those days when you saw a tragedy, you saw the humanity and was shaken by it — that shakiness either moved you to help or moved you to tears; however, now when many… perhaps most… see unthinkable tragedy, they view it as their lucky day and rather than having as their first response being to run to help or pray for the victims, many desire to get a good picture of the wreck so that it can be placed onto social media.
“This was a terrible wreck, it’ll get a lot of likes on Facebook and have a lot of people talking to me…” is something we’d never say out loud, but in all honesty, it’s a whole lot more true than we’d care to admit.
It might seem neat to take that picture of the car wrapped around a tractor-trailer on the interstate as you pass by at 5 mph, but remember, that’s someone’s dead or maimed baby, father or wife that you’re gawking over and I’d guarantee that if the roles were reversed, you’d be livid at someone doing the exact thing you’re doing.
Also, keep in mind that often, law enforcement just confirms that there was a fatality, but does not release the victim’s name until the family has been properly notified. When you pass by the wreck, snapping pictures of mangled cars, posting them onto social media, what you’re doing is creating a situation where momma’s find out that their kid has died prior to being notified properly and sympathetically.
The bottom line is this: Social media has made us far sicker as a people than we’d care to acknowledge. The next time you pass the scene of a terrible wreck, how about you offer assistance if emergency crews haven’t arrived yet and if they have, offer up a prayer on behalf of the victim and their family rather than post pictures of the wreckage of the worst day in someone’s life?
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