Nowadays, everyone has a camera in their pocket. Most people's first instinct once they see something interesting or relatively strange is to whip out that camera phone, start filming, and post on social media. Sometimes, it's a positive contribution; contributions that promote happiness, goodness, and kindness.
I present to you: Exhibit A:
My philosophy is to only use my camera phone for documentation that is absolutely necessary. Some of the footage in the previous video was that of security and dashcam footage. In others, it was shot by bystanders who are unable to help otherwise. In these situation, that footage may be helpful by providing legal documentation, or future teaching material.
Unfortunately, there are times where people film other strangers and events with the goal of mocking them. I understand that there are people who exhibit unusual behavior out in public. Sometimes, their behavior is bizarre. I'm not particularly against using a smart phone or video camera to document such things. The question is, however, where is the priority? Where is the empathy? What is the goal?
Here is an interesting example of an attempt to capture a viral moment, and many people mocked the man who is the focus of the video. Suffice to say, many people went on the mock the man in the video.
A New Jersey man was filmed on a transit train shaving. Many people mocked him and made fun of him online. (See article and video here). Little did they know, he was homeless and had just left a homeless shelter. According to the article mentioned previously, he has been homeless on and off, and has medical issues that include experiencing a stroke or more. His brother explained that because of that, he exhibits impulsive behavior.
The good news however, is that when people found out more about his background, and a GoFundMe campaign was started to help him get back on his feet. While the goal was to rais $35,000, it was exceeded and it is now at $36,430 while I was writing this take.
I will now invoke the Golden Rule. Imagine that you got sick and had a stroke. You became homeless, and your life is more difficult than that of the average citizen. On top of that, you find out that people were making fun of you because someone recorded you doing something unusual. I think that's what they call "insult to injury". How would you feel?
Again, my issue isn't that people thought that his behavior was unusual. The problem is that he was mocked online by people who don't know who he is or what his situation was. The people who mocked him might have done something bad, but that doesn't mean that they are necessarily bad people.
Here is another example where a man mocked a very young Hasidic Jewish child because of his appearance: Article available here. This situation is a little different because it's one man who mocked the child, and after facing some backlash, he apologized. I think it's good that he apologized, but he admitted that he should have just waited a few seconds to think before he acted.
Here's the thing: So what if the kid looked unusual to you? It's bad enough to openly mock an adult like that, but that's a little child. Talk about poor judgement.
Virtually all of us feel the urge to make fun of others or mock them. That's not unusual. However, strongly and actively suppress that urge. I try to avoid name-calling and mockery in situations like those mentioned previously because I try to put my self in someone else's shoes. I wouldn't want to be mocked by people who don't understand my situation.
Unfortunately, the advances in technology allows for misuse and abuse. How many people lost their jobs, or ended friendships over sharing a stupid video or a short tweet? Because that is always a possibility, it is one of the reasons why I strongly guard my identity online, and my interactions on social media are kept at a minimum and provided very, very carefully.
Bottom line, my advice is, just try to be nice to each other, even to people who do not reciprocate that.