What’s Up With Taking Internet Beef To The Streets?

April 26, 2012  |  

Twitter and Facebook are going to be the death of black people—in some instances it already has been. And while I know we are hardly the only ones using the social networking sites we are the biggest users and unfortunately too many of us are using it for violent foolishness.

Today there’s a story that’s been picked up about a 30-person brawl of all women in St. Louis that surprisingly only left two people with major injuries after they were hit with bats and required a trip to the hospital for stitches. “Police say one of the women in the group broke a glass candleholder from a nearby memorial and used it as a weapon before heading into the convenience store.” And you know what this was all over? Facebook. And though you might expect witnesses to say something along the lines of, “this is ridiculous,” “I don’t understand what this is about,” or something similar, CBS local news quoted a woman as saying, “People shouldn’t be posting their business on Facebook.” Well, that’s part of it. The other part is people shouldn’t be fighting over Facebook period.

It’s interesting that I came across this story because just yesterday one of my friends asked me if I’d seen the drama that had erupted on his Twitter timeline. I had not and so he filled me in on how he had apparently been talking about some personal experiences from his college years that involved cheating, unplanned pregnancies, and miscarriages (I don’t know if he called himself doing a Twitter testimonial or what) and although he’d left any identifying personal details, somehow someone he knew picked up on the story and twitter hell broke loose. By the end of the day he had gotten a few nasty calls from the friend who’d seen the tweets, the girl he had written about, and Facebook threats from the girl’s current boyfriend. I joked with him that he was a World Star Hip Hop video waiting to happen but the reality is he truly was.

In a lot of ways there’s a need for accountability on both sides of the coin. The “Internet balls” phenomenon is alive and well and many social media users trick themselves into thinking they can say whatever they please online when it comes to real-life circumstances simply because they’re behind the safety of a computer screen (for the moment) and that’s certainly not OK. But it’s also not acceptable to migrate an Internet beef into a brawl in the streets over comments that 1. May or may not be directed at you, 2. No one else probably knows are directed at you, 3. Are just not that serious. Just last week we saw the violent viral video of the teen dragging another girl out of the house and beating and stomping her all the way into the front yard over Twitter. At some point we have to realize what’s more important—our future as a free law-abiding citizen or checking someone over something 25 people probably noticed on the Twitterverse.

Although I’m sure there have been instances of white folks coming to blows over Internet beef we seem to be the main perpetrators of this trend and ironically I think it has to do with some black people’s need to protect their image. It’s interesting because we talk about the negative images we’re tired of seeing on this site all day, but some people are so concerned with defending their reputation and the image people have of them that when it’s disrespected or challenged online it becomes as real as if someone were saying it directly to their face. I think this phenomenon also speaks to the inherent anger people are harboring inside or they’re simply looking for a reason to get into it. If by the time you get through reading someone’s timeline or trying to find their latest posts on Facebook and when you get in your car and over to wherever the other person is, you still feel like beating the brakes off of them over a few words, you may need to sign up for the Tami Roman school of anger management. It’s just not worth it boo boo.

I’m certainly not about Internet thugging but the violent manner in which these situations are being handled—and increasingly by women—just isn’t worth it. Internet beef needs to be kept and squashed online so you can go about your real life sensibly.

Why do you think so many people are quick to fight in real life over things said over the Internet?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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