Why We Need To Stop Using Social Media To Show Off Our Charity Work
The name Keaton Jones is all over the internet and when he began trending — I made the conscious decision not to click on the video of a young boy with a defeated look on his face.
As the attention on the “lad of the moment” steadily grew — a lot of us were even more skeptical and thoroughly confused — particularly when high-profile users began to elevate the status of Keaton — by offering their condolences and a basket full of goodies that included invites to movie premieres from movie stars and tickets to basketball games from pro athletes.
There was also the well-meaning messages from the likes of Wonder Woman, Captain America and even the Hulk who flexed his muscles in solidarity for the White boy from Tennessee — whose mother apparently filmed him “having a moment” in reaction to the bullies who “call him ugly” and make lunchtime unbearable when they “douse him with milk, put ham down his clothes and throw bread at him.”
As hard as I tried to avoid getting caught up in all the hype — it’s almost impossible to escape the avalanche of retweets — especially when Snoop Dogg, LeBron James and Justin Bieber invite themselves to the party.
The Keaton Jones video has amassed millions of views and that number is rising — but I still haven’t permitted myself to watch it and that decision will never change.
It’s not that I don’t feel sorry for any child who has to endure the torturous ritual of bullying — because I definitely went through some shit in my day. It’s really due to the irresponsible way in which adults showcase their generous tendencies.
Aside from the revelation that a GoFundMe campaign started by a random guy in New Jersey has now been suspended after generating an astounding $57K — there’s also the latest controversy involving Keaton’s mother who may or may not be a Confederate flag-loving racist.
Suddenly we’re faced with the glaring possibility that the “hero” in question may have been playing a role that quite frankly he was born to flawlessly embody.
White children have no issue when it comes to drawing out bucket loads of empathy. During my commuting days in NYC — there were plenty of times that White mothers would try in vain to calm down their kids who sported cherubic faces — contorted in defiance. The crowds on the train always observed the scene with encouraging smiles and the reassurance that all that howling wasn’t a nuisance.
When it came to Black children — the reaction was the exact opposite. The mother’s attempts to subdue her child evoked quiet disdain as passengers either tried to void the “chaos” or would openly gawk at the situation — seething with zero tolerance or even an ounce of pity.
The army of supporters that have showed up to propel the case of Keaton Jones is quite admirable, but there is no doubt that the seductive wheel of social media helped to initiate the shitfest that has commenced.
We’ve been conditioned to pick and choose the items that deserve to be highlighted while ignoring the pending stack that don’t guarantee our worthiness through millions of clicks. There are plenty of Black kids around Keaton’s age — even younger — who have also suffered the consequences of being relentlessly bullied — and yet their tales of woe are rarely received with the same public christening that we’re now beholding.
Remember Philando Castile? Probably not — he’s not trending anymore.
Castile is the Black guy whose bloody murder was streamed on Facebook after his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds posted the evidence of a White cop shooting into their car — with her toddler daughter strapped in the back seat.
There was absolutely no public outrage or celebrity shoutouts for Reynolds or her poor child — because we are accustomed to the non-stop coverage of Black bodies on the streets — and the bloody playgrounds where our kids are pummeled with bullets by grown ass men who claim that their actions were an act of defense.
The fact of the matter is that we can’t be shocked at the righteous response to a teary-eyed White boy who alleges his victimhood. But, we can at least be disturbed at the way we use the landscape of social media to propel our agenda.
By ‘we” I mean the celebrities who are addicted to the mission of showing off their charitable deeds for the whole world to see.
There was a time not too long ago — when doing the right thing was a closed door affair. This was a natural instinct that stemmed from the fear of being categorized as a shameless promoter with a penchant for displaying all the attributes that require a healthy amount of praise and adulation.
Those days are behind us and that’s because of how the structure of our lives have been reshaped by the tools that were built to destroy us. We stupidly bought the lie of our willpower and the ability to escape the trap of turning against ourselves. We wanted to test the waters to prove that we could avoid the virus of narcissism with heaps of self-indulgence.
Clearly, we failed the test, and the error of our ways is birthing a movement that is quite frankly making it easier to consider seamless relations with bots.
But, while we grapple with that reality — it’s probably best to pull the brakes and revert back to the humbleness of mankind — that allowed us to be good to each other without a cheering squad or a plethora of new followers that will surely see the upcoming project in your clogged pipeline.
It’s time to relinquish the desire to join the maddening crowd without wisely vetting your latest passion. Performing a good deed especially when you’re blessed enough to go beyond the call of duty is a beautiful gesture that can quickly get ugly when it’s splashed all over for global review. There’s absolutely nothing graceful about heightening “a trend” that will eventually fade into a diminished hashtag.
There’s dignity in quietly doing your part without logging in tweets as proof of your lavishness and irresistible urge to aid a boy who is one of many, but somehow managed to rise above the rubble as the “special case” that demands our vivid concentration.
Social media is many things, and a lot of them are pretty dope — but when it comes to the murky territory of competing with other fellow millionaires for the glory of likes, retweets and the endorsement of wishy-washy users — your best intentions only amplify the diseased disposition of our crippled humanity.
Keaton Jones doesn’t need to attend glitzy functions to heal his wounds, nor does he need the over-compensation of the media and media types.
He’s not a charity case. He’s just a boy who was born at the right time — and he’s good luck is our undoing. But that could change if we decide to be less social and more strategically introverted.
Trust me, it will pay off.