How The Viral Epidemic Birthed A Lack of Empathy That’s Keeping Us Disconnected
The woman who took the damning photo of former Cosby Show star, Geoffrey Owens is interestingly named Karma Lawrence, and she’s now claiming that her malicious intent of capturing the image of a citizen, who happened to be on television at one point in his life, and is now fulfilling the duty of staying afloat — wasn’t meant to shame or inspire the public reception — that led to the unwanted spotlight that sadly cost Owens his job.
“I figured everybody does it. I don’t know what possessed me. I just did it. I didn’t even think about it.”
Karma is right about the fact that “everybody does it” because as much as we like to pretend that we would treat that situation differently after Google alerts us that our suspicions about the middle-aged bagger is right on the money — there’s an inherent need to prove your worth, even if it requires sacrificing someone’s privilege of privacy that we so often take for granted.
And then there’s the gradient of possibilities that emerge from thrill seekers in prominent positions who can’t wait to capitalize on the gorgeous misfortune of an out-of-work actor, who desperately needs a shoutout on Twitter about an upcoming project that will be mutually beneficial.
Reality TV helped to soften the blow of over-exposure through the mechanism of the “gawker generation,” and how we bought the notion that there’s no specificity of fame that’s too jarring or embarrassing to endure, as long as you’re enjoying the attention you’ve garnered by any means necessary.
There’s also the explosion of social media and how staying connected ultimately requires disconnecting from basic human instincts, that once regulated how we regard one another and why that level of respect was warranted for the sake of protecting how we empathize — and assess whether or not our temporary lapse of judgment is worth the price of our souls.
Karma Lawrence peeped an opportunity to righteously sell out and she promptly went for it, and didn’t give a damn about the reputation and livelihood of her vulnerable subject.
It was irresistibly exhilarating to stumble upon the epic downfall of a former celebrity who is now living it up as a regular person, working a regular job and looking regular.
In this ailing climate that arms us with the authority of exacting serious harm on those who are in prime positions for the kind of treatment that demands an audience of millions, it’s not at all bewildering to consider how easily we turn against each other for the glory of a viral ride and modest rewards.
Geoffrey Owens is now making the rounds to media outlets, as his job shaming turned him into an overnight sensation. We all hail him for making an honest living and curse the person responsible for astutely capturing the unfiltered version of our tragic evolution.
While I condemned the disgusting actions of Karma who should really pray that karma doesn’t catch up to her before she has the chance to be genuinely ashamed of her addiction to shaming innocent humans for fame and fortune — I had to challenge myself with the task of imagining what would’ve transpired — if I had been the one standing that close to a fallen star.
I concluded that taking his picture would only happen if I were feeling particularly snappy that day, and even if I discretely added those shots to my photo album, the chances of me shopping them around to the highest bidder are less than zero.
For better or worse, I’ve never been able to seamlessly adapt to the snapfest of our times, as we’re so distracted by the obsession to capture any moment that is deemed Insta-worthy.
Those hashtagged gems prove how #livingourbestlives is an effortless status for those of us who luckily escaped the wrath of daily living, that forces us to do whatever is necessary to survive — even the deplorable duty of bagging groceries.
As connected as we claim to be through the platforms that were orchestrated to enhance the complete breakdown of communication in ways that are unrecoverable, the brutal truth is that we’re playing out graphic scenes from the most heart-wrenching episodes of Black Mirror ever conceived.
And unfortunately we can’t console ourselves with the hope that it’s all fiction.
In real life, camera phones are devilish devices created by devils with genius minds, who knew exactly how their Frankestein-like pursuits would turn humans into miniature monsters on the prowl.
There are no limits to what we can achieve when we snap the photo of a dead icon in her coffin, and begin to plan for the Insta-worthy trip that will be manifested after editors at the Daily Mail get their hands on your latest masterpiece.
There’s no shame in the game of satisfying palettes that can only stomach the constant catering to real life scenarios, that showcase the disturbing footage of suffering at the hands of the law or the ones the law recognizes as the population that gets to exact their privilege at the expense of the disposable.
The media did a fine job these past few months with overtime labor invested in the business of Black pain, and how the numerous videos — appearing in timelines, in rapid succession, would serve as bread and butter for eager staffers— who gladly receive the raw evidence with the falsehood of actively shedding light on an issue that keeps them gainfully employed.
Heaven forbid, that the act of over-sharing gruesome material should also be accompanied with taped discussions by editorial teams of these overzealous outlets — who are also committed to presenting insightful videos, that help to curb the appetite of users — who enjoy gawking more than actually internalizing the societal harassment of pained participants.
We gleefully re-purpose memes that depict a dead icon during one of the worst periods of her life, and thoughtlessly transform her drug-induced state at an awards ceremony into unrelated gibberish — that is meant to finally bequeath you with the number of “likes” and “retweets” that can propel instant stardom for a couple of hours.
We’ve been galvanized by the blueprint of success that has nothing to do with hard work and everything to do with keyboarding it to greatness with the hopes that a few extra followers will grant permission to seek out 5-star resorts in exotic locales, that are dying to be introduced to your genius idea of a free vacay with the promise of gold-star blurbs.
Dead eyes provide vacant stares as we click our way to extinction with verification from tools that are defensively fighting for our unyielding prematurity.
We were sold bogus goods that were packaged with gleaming possibilities that have produced some accuracy, as careers actually do undergo a resurgence when a tweet that links to your work attracts the right attention.
But there’s also the trap door that leads to our fantastical cells, that light up whenever we contemplate the amount of power we possess when we can literally halt the moneymaking machine of a “cancelled” user, who apparently used her influence to the disadvantage of trusted worshippers.
Who knew so many of us couldn’t resist the sliver of stardom that follows the attempt to win the competition of our social prowess?
Everything is a game, and nothing really matters especially when we find the tribe that initiates and enables our power-hungry tendencies that often birth outlandish takeovers. These impromptu coups further establish how viscerally comfortable we’ve become assaulting the objects of our disconnect with clicks and viral condemnations — that quietly degrade our membership to the human race.
It turns out that remaining logged into the spaces that allow us to engage on our terms until we commit the sin that can’t be forgiven, was supposed to weaponize us with the symptoms of how we can be reflections of our worst nightmare.
Karma Lawrence and all the others like her, who see dollar signs and the potential to create a viral commodity when faced with the unremarkable fate of former notables, have lived up to the ambitious premise of greedy techies — who programmed the shit to make us shittier to ourselves and each other.
On that note, I really hope this piece goes viral, but if it doesn’t I’ll try to survive the disappointment.
It’s a scary web out there!