First there was Amber Cole. Then there was April Pratt. Then Adelyn ‘Hosehbo’. Now Mariah Yeater. In little over a week, four young women have found themselves thrust into the spotlight via Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. And in each case, it seems like people around the world are gorging on a feast of moralising.
Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of each case (and we certainly don’t know enough to be too judgemental about any of these people), it’s interesting to see how people have swarmed over these cases. You know what they say about opinions: they’re like assholes, because everyone’s got one. Sites like Twitter allow people to vent their opinions, throwing their thoughts into the mix along with millions of others. It’s a kind of herd or group mentality.
The point I’m making is that it’s easy to make a snap judgement and then jump on the bandwagon. And it’s easy to think that we know all the facts.But we rarely know enough to be able to form a firm opinion, even if we like to think we have a good ‘instinct’ and we know what’s going on. Twitter doesn’t present facts: it presents rumours and guesses, repeated so many times that they seem real.
The scramble to comment is perhaps best illustrated by the people rushed to watch and share the Amber Cole video. Given that the video contains alleged child porn, perhaps a little more circumspection might have been advisable. Or would that require too much self-control?
Then there’s Hillary Adams, the Texas woman who allegedly released a shocking video of her father allegedly beating her with a belt. That video has led to a police investigation, thanks in part it seems to a campaign by members of Reddit. The contrast could not be greater between Adams and the other girls discussed in this article: whereas Adams is portrayed as a victim, the others are to varying degrees portrayed by many as being the architects of their own misfortune.
So in the Hillary Adams case, people rush to help her. In the other cases, people rush to condemn. It seems we want easy, simple answers, and we can quite quickly slot each girl into a preconceived narrative. We don’t want the facts, because facts take time and sometimes people want to keep the facts private. So we work with what we’ve got. Meanwhile, you have to wonder how people like Amber Cole and April Pratt are feeling right now.