By now you’ve heard the news of the deaths of both Florida rapper XXXTentacion and Philadelphia rapper Jimmy Wopo, both tragically killed by gun violence. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of either men’s music, that’s beside the point, someone in the world lost someone who meant the world to them.
Social media has become a place where we come to for information, for comedic relief and a sense of escape and sometimes peace. But yesterday I saw something that made me feel sorry for the future of my child and the children who will come after him. Yesterday I saw a celebrity dying in his car and I watched people record it for likes and retweets. Yesterday I saw people rejoicing the death of this celebrity without any type of consideration for those who loved and cared for him. I was disgusted. I realized that social media has desensitized us to such a point that death has nearly no effect on us. Unless it is someone that they care about or love. But I guess that would mean that we aren’t completely heartless, we just don’t care about others unless it personally affects us. A lack of empathy and compassion.
This isn’t to cape or make an excuse of who XXXTentacion was or what he was accused of doing. He lived a life that most people would shy away from and he talked without fear, and some people may even go as far as to say, “If you live by the sword, you die by the sword,” and this is true, but the carelessness online makes it hard to feel that way. Seven years ago, CNN did a story about internet desensitization and whether the internet is slowly killing empathy. “Have our brains become so desensitized by a 24/7, all-you-can-eat diet of lurid flickering images that we’ve lost all perspective on appropriateness and compassion when another human being apparently suffers a medical emergency?,” The author asks. “Have we become a society of detached voyeurs?” Yes, we have. We are the Judge, the Jury, and Executioner. We have become the savage society that we read in textbooks of mass killing, public executions and pure love of blood and gory. How unfortunate that we are supposed to be more advanced and intellectual than those before us when we are just as bad or even worse.
“Curiosity is human — our brains constantly seek novelty and stimulation from both positive and negative sources. But empathy is human, too.” What people fail to realize is that you can have empathy for someone’s suffering without making light of whatever sins they may have. You can have empathy for their families and loved ones if showing compassion for them is too much for you to handle. Yesterday I watched my timeline flood with egotistical, judgemental people who were never personally affected by X’s actions speak with such hatred. JUDGE. I also watched the same people express that it was Karma and he got what he deserved. Karma– a word that is so easily thrown around when the tables have turned or when something bad happens. It is easy to say that he got his karma without realizing the “Karma” you set upon yourself when rejoicing over his death. JURY. Yesterday I saw people pull out their phones and record a man in distress, a man dying. The same phone that could have been used to save his life. A choice that social media has drilled into our skulls, “RECORD FOR CLOUT”. I also watched a guy come online and confess taking someone’s life, and then go on Instagram live and show how careless his words could be. He then retracts what he says but it’s too late. People have his face, his name, and a location. Whether he was the one to pull the trigger or just some idiot looking to gain some followers, he may have sealed his own fate and we will repeat the same cycle. People will rejoice and people will be outraged because, in the end, we are no smarter than a hamster on a wheel. Repeating the same tragedy, thinking we are doing something different each time. EXECUTIONER.
We have to be a better society than the ones before us. We have to actually live the cute little phrases that we use as captions under our selfies for likes. We as a society are so deep in self-idealization that we can’t even come up for air and think about how OUR words can affect others. I wasn’t a fan of X, I didn’t listen to his music, and I didn’t relate to his words. But a lot of my friends did and I empathizes with them. I put my personal opinion to the side and remembered that he is a 20-year-old kid with parents, siblings, friends and fans who are hurting right now. Sometimes all it takes is remembering when you lost someone who meant the world to you and then imagining people being happy about it. If that doesn’t shift something in you and make you feel sympathy about his situation, then maybe the karma you should focus on is your own.