Russ Kent: Broad strokes don’t work on social media

Broad strokes are great when it comes to painting.

When it comes to making a point on social media, they don’t work.

A story out of the Chicago area went viral this week.

I’m hesitant to discuss it, because it involves race relations.

But here I go. Some times  I can’t help myself.

Four black teens kidnapped a white teenager and for two days beat and tortured him. The beatings were captured on video and have been watched by thousands on social media.

I haven’t watched the video. I don’t need to.

I know how cruel people can be.

This is a hate crime. No doubt about it.

But it should not be used on social media as a “gotcha” moment.

But that’s exactly what is happening.

And it’s being done by white Facebook users who I’m confident don’t have a racist bone in their body.

They’re just not thinking before they post.

White Facebook users are posting about the incident, not to rationally discuss the horror of it, but in order to “get back” at black Facebook users, who post items in support of the “Black Lives Matter” effort.

That’s wrong, terribly wrong.

Just as white America is outraged by the notion that all Caucasian cops are racists and just waiting for their opportunity to shoot a young black man, black America is outraged by the despicable actions of these four teenagers.

Every nationality, every race, has adults and teens within who are despicable.

But that doesn’t mean all members of that segment of society are despicable.

White users of social media should not be using this video as a “gotcha moment” to get back and and to counter posts by black social media users who favor “black lives matter.”

It’s silly. It’s also dangerous.

Be outraged. But be outraged by the fact that four American teenagers did something horrific.

This could be a learning moment.

Why did this happen? How could this happen? What can we do to stop this from happening again?

This incident shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to further denigrate black America.

Much the same that the shooting of young black men should be used as an opportunity to denigrate all of white America.

But each time someone responds to an incident such as this with anecdotal statistics or anecdotal crime reports, it only widens the divide between black and white.

White lives matter memes, just like black lives matter memes, paint with a broad brush.

And painting an entire race of people based on anecdotal evidence is just as dangerous as the incidents themselves.

They just inflame passions, where calm and rational discussion would be better served.

Yes, this incident is horrible.

Facebook users are outraged, and rightly so.

There are post all over Facebook with video and comments and expressions of horror. These too are justified.

But what isn’t justifiable is using thisi ncident as a way to prove a point.

One of the oldest sayings in the history of mankind is “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Well, it’s true.

This story is about four teens — four American teens — who did something incredibly vile and incredibly stupid and incredibly violent.

Period. End of story.

This is not a “win” for white America. This incident should not be used to prove a point.

Just as “black lives matter” posts and rants are not a win for black America.

No one should be keeping score.

If we do, we’ll all end up as losers, and the divide between black and white will never be bridged.

That’s the danger of social media.

You don’t have to think about anything before you post it.

Unfortunately, most users don’t think about the consequences of their actions.

Just as I’m outraged by the notion that all white cops are racist killers, I’m positive black Americans are outraged by the callousness of the incident in Chicago.

Everyone should be outraged by this attack.

But as horrible as this incident is, it is anecdotal, and should not used to paint a bigger picture.

Painting with a broad stroke like that is dangerous.

This should be learning moment.

It is not a “gotcha” moment.

Social media users — if they want to use these videos and postings and comments to make a point — should focus on the question of “how can four people — four young Americans — do something like this.”

Social media posts that use this argument as a “gotcha” moment, are racist.

End of story.

Russ Kent Editor Kent Editor

Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email [email protected] with comments or story ideas.