Social media gives us a case of The Stupid

I hate lecturing people.

More than that, I hate taking things too seriously.

But, folks, some things are going too far.

We have these amazing tools at our hands. We use them to communicate with others, check in with old friends, meet new ones, promote our products and services … and sometimes troll the hell out of each other.

Last night, while I was laying out the inside city pages of today’s Kamloops Daily News, I noticed a trend. And it’s not the kind of trend that makes me happy. No, no … not like motorcycle boots or skinny jeans.

It’s our flagrant use of social media and the internet.

In three different stories — count ’em, THREE — we have people using social media in ways that adversely affects the lives of those around us. And that’s just in Kamloops.

It’s like we log on and catch a case of The Stupid.

First, girls gang up on another girl on Twitter, then bitch her out at her locker, record it and put the video on YouTube … because we haven’t had enough stories from across Canada and the United States of The Stupid getting caught by airing their exploits for all to see.

Just recently, there was The Stupid girl who robbed a bank and then posted a video about it. Cops saw it, now she’s looking at jail time.

Second, we have the bus passengers who accused the B.C. Transit driver of not letting them off at their stop and kidnapping them. When I initially saw the video on YouTube, I thought, ‘Man, why are these people acting so hysterically. The bus driver seems like a sweet old fella.’

Guess what? Other passengers have come forward and who’s to blame? The passengers. Yeah, it seems the guy who recorded the confrontation kicked the bus driver, causing him to fall into the bus door and smash the glass.

Cool, pal. You have your 15 minute of fame now.

For The Stupid.

Third, a young girl and her friend try to organize a dance to raise funds for diabetes research. There was some confusion about booze, they cancelled the beer garden but things kept spiralling out of hand on the internet.

It’s kind of like that old Vidal Sassoon commercial from the 70s (dating myself here). She’ll tell two friends and she’ll tell two friends and she’ll tell two friends and so on and so on and so on and … well, you get the picture.

The trouble with ‘so on and so on’ is the facts get lost in the tale-telling. What was supposed to be a non-alcoholic party turned into a ‘rave’ and a beer bash and good-grief-knows-what-else.

The girls had to cancel the dance after selling 400 tickets.

In light of my Google+ plea to the world last weekend for us all to be nicer to each other, here’s another one: be smarter.

These are incredible days. We can reach out and say hi to someone on the other side of the country (or the world) and have a reply in seconds. We can Skype (or Face Time if you’re one of those <shudder> Apple people) and talk face to face with our loved ones.

We follow breaking news minute by minute, second by second, reading updates from people on the scene.

But like Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker in Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility.

There’s an onus upon us to use these tools responsibly … and to teach our children how to be good citizens, not just of the internet but of the world.

Let’s stop looking for those GOTCHA! moments and rushing to put it on YouTube. Let’s stop patting ourselves on the backs for bringing another person down. Let’s lift each other up and help girls like Olivia Hughes and Amanda Sullivan hold their dances and teach them that trying to help is a good thing.

Let’s stop being stupid.

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