In the immediate aftermath of the deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, it comes off cold for me to scribe a column about guns. But, if I was on Twitter and Facebook, I would still be in the minority of those who did not use a tragedy to express a political ideology. That saddens me.
Parker and Ward were killed by a man who went by the professional name of Bryce Williams. Williams, whose real name is Vester Flanagan, used to be a news reporter for the television station that Parker and Ward worked for. He was the definition of disgruntled.
The tidbits that have come out from a manifesto that Williams faxed to ABC News suggests a man who let anger fester in his soul for a very long time. I do not wish to psycho-analyze a man I do not know; but, I know crazy when it is presented to me.
Williams was probably a man who fought inside his head every day. The constant tug-o-war between anger and sanity was finally lost…and Parker and Ward paid the price. They were collateral damage to a man who should not have had a gun.
In the hours and days after this column is published, we will find out how Bryce Williams obtained his weapon. We will find out the length, if any, to which he sought help for what was obviously a disturbed mind. We will hear more about his racist screeds that he penned as a means to let loose his demons on innocent people. Some of this is already known to us because Bryce Williams tweeted the world immediately after his rampage.
I want you to think about that. Despite obviously being in a state of insanity, he was able to tweet to the world what he was doing and why he was doing it.
After using this column for the last two years to bemoan and scathingly rebuke social networking, I now find that the ill-effects of this poisonous diversion is far beyond what I thought they were.
Murderers no longer need film their crimes and upload them on to YouTube. They can live tweet their horrific acts within seconds. And this is the only way the Kardashians can be bumped out of top trends. The next step in or digression will be whackos on Periscope as they walk into a shopping mall brandishing an AK-47. The world we live in is now completely bereft of humanity, logic and decency. We have become the Abyss.
As the details about this shooting became more available throughout the day, I made the mistake of going to Twitter to read news accounts of what was known about the incident. What I viewed was not only disheartening, but it made my bad day 10 times worse.
People all over Twitter were using this obscene tragedy to spout off once again about gun control. When it was found out that the murderer was a black man who had purportedly wrote a suicide note filled with racist bile, the other side of the political spectrum chimed in with their insincere indignation about media hypocrisy regarding race-related crimes.
Moments before the tragedy, these people were tweeting about McWhoppers. After, they opined how the world sucks and the “other guys” are the reason why.
And now, madmen tweet during their acts of carnage. What really scares me is that Bryce Williams’s tweets right after he killed two people in cold blood were less offensive than those who tweeted about what Bryce Williams had done.
This is the angry world we inhabit. It is selective and suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder. Ten minutes after Internet Warriors tweet about how awful guns and/or black people are, they break down the latest pop culture blurb. Many contribute just enough to make the world a cosmic ball of anger and partisanship…and then they tweet about the burrito they had for lunch.
The difference between Bryce Williams and his fellow tweeters is a thin, gray line. He gave nearly no thought to the lives he ended in a sudden fit of inhumanity, but he knew he had to tweet about it.
If that does not chill you, chances are high you are a part of the problem.
When Dylann Roof committed his homicidal atrocity in Charleston, South Carolina, the media told us this imbecilic nutjob somehow was spawned by American culture. Being a white guy, I had to suffer through weeks of pseudo-psychologists and dilettante sociologists condescendingly lecture me on why I must carry the cross for that pathetic killing machine.
No such lectures will come for Bryce Williams. This is just, but also hypocritical. Williams was crazy. And it does not matter that the lectures by the media and the echo chamber of bitterness and anger that permeates throughout social networking will be the primary factor in his anger turning into homicidal rage. He acted. It is his responsibility.
And yet, social networking is still a cancer that prevents most of us from truly having a conversation with the people we are forced to inhabit this world with. The “Us vs. Them” mentality has created a civil war of irrelevancy. This past week, a group of people were dissatisfied with the service they received in a restaurant. They refused to leave a gratuity for the server and wrote a snide but harmless comment on the check. That slip of paper went “viral.” And many made obscene comments about the group whose only crime was rudely stiffing a server for bad service.
Is that what most of us fear? A simple act that we barely thought out puts us on the Stage of Ridicule so we can be entertainment for people eagerly waiting to ridicule innocent, irrelevant acts? Read enough of these stories, scour through pages of ignorant, ill-informed comment sections on social media and news websites and readily dismiss contrary points of view as illogical and you build the factory that occasionally will produce people like Dylann Roof and Bryce Williams.
This is our world. We made it. And we let it continue to destroy us all because we have convinced ourselves that the only way we can see pictures of our family members is through the aid and genius of those who inflicted Facebook and Twitter on to the world.
The zombie apocalypse is real. Those who post daily on social networking sites are the zombies. And they not only create more zombies by believing their life is intertwined with social media, they also create the dystopian society that allows mass murderers to flourish.
Bryce Williams had just enough of his mind left after hunting down two former co-workers to tweet about his crime. I just cannot come to terms with that.