Reader’s thoughts about shooting

Divisiveness revealed in social media

The recent tragic events that transpired at the Beavercreek Walmart illustrates just how much social media fans the flames of white versus black, left versus right, rich versus poor, and the everyone-versus-everyone-else society we live in today.

As soon as the news broke about the police shooting, and killing 22-year-old John Crawford, who was allegedly waving what turned out to be a BB gun around in the crowded store, Facebook was abuzz with speculation about what happened and why, and as is usually the case, battle lines were being drawn.

Many of the first comments posted on The Beavercreek Buzz, a popular Facebook page devoted to all things Beavercreek, were people saying, “I told you this would happen if we allowed RTA to bus riders from Dayton to this area.”

Even though there was no evidence to suggest it had anything to do with the shooting, and in fact it did not, people were almost gleeful in being able to dredge this issue up once again. From there it devolved into name calling, and the usual remarks that are so easy to make when one is sitting alone at a computer, where there is no requirement to look into another’s eyes when insulting them. Even the innocent victims were not spared. “Ghetto baby mama” was a term used to describe the mother of the dead man’s two children. This, because she had the nerve to want answers as to why the father of her children went to Walmart for ingredients to make s’mores, and wound up dead.

Of course, it was not one-sided. Others were all too eager to convict the police officers involved in the shooting, without stopping to consider what it must have been like for them, in a potentially deadly situation, with many lives hanging in the balance. Unfortunately, our society has grown addicted to instant access to information, even as it is still unfolding, and we seem to have lost the patience to wait for the facts to emerge, before we form opinions. Many, after having formed these opinions, will only consider other viewpoints that support their own. Misinformation and downright lies are repeated over and over on social media sites, and as the saying goes, if you repeat a lie enough times, people will believe it.

This, of course, is not limited to Beavercreek, Ohio, nor is it limited to social media sites like Facebook. The internet is full of blogs written by people with intense biases, and passed off as journalism. Many people today shun traditional newspapers because they don’t throw enough “red meat” out, meaning they don’t want to read anything balanced, but instead just want opinions that bolster their own. The facts become incidental, and are drowned out by people shouting slogans. Even those who should know better, like our representatives in Washington, have adapted this way of dealing, or not dealing, with issues.

Watch C-SPAN, or any televised Congressional hearings, and reasonable people are left to wonder if they are even debating the same topic. Of course, one is entitled to one’s own opinion, but not one’s own facts. Facts are solid and should be indisputable. Nothing positive can be accomplished if people will not even agree to deal in reality. — TONI VEST

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