Facebook and Ferguson: When A Blog Share Goes Wrong
So, I follow a lot of blogs. More than a dozen. And a lot of the voices I read are beautiful, and I want them to be heard. So I also share a lot of blog links on Facebook. I am always careful to review these pieces, to look them over and confirm that they are words I’m sure I want to validate before I share them. Sometimes I share things knowing full well that they will be perceived negatively by most of my Facebook friends (such as this incredibly thought-provoking piece, which ignited a lively debate on my timeline).
Other times I recognize that a topic is heavy, and must be handled gently, so I do my best to share blog posts that are not controversial, blog posts that remind us all of something important.
This past weekend I finally had the opportunity to sit down with my laptop and a decent chunk of time and wind my way through all the news stories and blog posts about the tragedy that happened in Ferguson. And I was shocked and dismayed and alarmed at what I read and the venomous opinions being slung around.
And I was also shocked and dismayed and alarmed because so few of my Facebook friends shared anything remotely sympathetic toward the people of Ferguson, Michael Brown, or his family.
So I wanted to offer a voice; a voice that begged for empathy and to remember that what happened is a human issue first and foremost, before it is a race issue. I shared this voice on Facebook, because how could you possibly incite a storm of controversy with words like that?
Well, quite easily, it turns out.
I got a few negative comments – nothing horrible, but enough to leave me feeling disturbed and angry. We are Christians, aren’t we? Doesn’t that mean we react to Michael Brown’s death first and foremost with compassion for this young man’s family, and everyone else who has been so affected by this tragedy?
Doesn’t that mean we affirm their grief and anger? Are they not the oppressed in this situation? The ones whose voices are being met with military force and tear gas and rubber bullets?
There is something wrong with the world when I share a post reminding everyone that Michael Brown is someone’s beloved child, and that his death is a tragedy, and the first comment I receive after sharing that is a reminder that I don’t have all the facts, that Michael was tall, heavy, physically aggressive, and high on marijuana while the officer was just following protocol, was serving and protecting.
Yet the officer is not the one who died that day.
So part of me regretted sharing that post, even though I honestly thought it would be a gentle reminder to remember that this story is about a human being, and I didn’t imagine it would attract controversy. Perhaps, in that regard, I have too much faith in my Facebook friends. I don’t know.
But I won’t take it down, because sharing links like that on Facebook are one tiny way of standing in solidarity with those who are angry and grieving in Ferguson right now. It’s not enough; I know that. I know there is more that I and others can and should be doing to support the voices of those who are being drowned out. But it is something.
So let’s not turn a deaf ear to what is happening in Ferguson right now. And oh dear goodness, of the love of all that is good in this world, let us remember who the victims are.