I've lived in midtown Atlanta for nearly thirty-five years and have never felt afraid until now. Imposters have hijacked our city, and they are combing the streets at record speed —tearing lives apart piece by piece, window by window, gunfire by gunfire.
In July, shortly after the riots broke, there was a drive-by shooting outside of my daughter's bedroom window while she slept, snug in her bed. She didn't hear the culprits firing at each other as they sped past the house, nor did she witness my tears the next morning when reality struck like the bullets that grazed our front lawn. Instead, she hopped out of bed with tousled hair, nibbled on a Pop-Tart, and asked me to hand her the remote.
Our neighborhood is a mish-mash of old school city folk and transplanted newbies who are not exactly what I would call street smart. They leave valuables in their cars at night, share personal information (like where they live precisely) in the Next Door app, and throw each other under the bus on Facebook whenever the mood strikes. The irony is that none of them seem phased by the violence around them —until a stranger comes knockin' with a brick in his hand and throws it through the windshield of their SUV. Sorry not sorry, but this is what happens when you stir the pot.
When you instill fear in people, they get scared. When you promote rage, they get angry and break shit. So why, then, are so many people willing to support this behavior online? Did they really think it wasn't going to backfire?
If you scroll back twenty years, you will notice the beginning of the social media movement. Sadly, what seemed like harmless fun at the time — connecting friends and family — has quickly evolved into a toxic wasteland for criminals. Let me give you an example. In the Netflix series, "Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer," a group of internet nerds described how they helped capture one of Canada's most notorious criminals.
After playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with Luka Rocco Magnotta (Eric Clinton Kirk Newman) — a serial cat killer known for uploading footage of the deaths online — the severed remains of Lin Jun, a 33-year-old computer engineering student, were discovered in a suitcase near a dumpster. Magnotta had filmed himself repeatedly stabbing the man in the chest and uploaded the video online. He then dismembered the body and mailed the victim's hands and feet to elementary schools and federal political party offices. He was arrested in Berlin while Googling news articles about himself at an internet café. And so I ask: Did their investigation lead authorities to a gruesome homicide? Or is social media to blame for turning an animal killer into a murderer by placing notoriety at his fingertips?
Stories like these are the reason why we need to stop arguing with each other on and offline. By doing so, we carelessly encourage dangerous behavior and keep tensions at an all-time high. Criminals do horrible things to innocent people every day while scanning their newsfeeds for fame. Let's stop giving them what they want and climb aboard the peace train before it pulls away, leaving us behind in a pile of rubble. Spoiler alert: The United States of America ceases to exist the second we become divided, and — surprise, surprise — we are split in two.