Why sharing viral videos isn’t Activism.


I was sent a video displaying two babies being physically abused by a woman on Facebook messenger, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

The video showed a young woman’s hand repeatedly slapping the faces of babies. She then proceeded to choke the children then finally tossing them to the ground. In the end, a baby was slightly bleeding from the back of its head.

After seeing the video, I was disappointed, emotional, and furious. I was disappointed because there was nothing I could do to help the innocent babies from that heinous woman. I was emotional because the babies were entirely defenseless to the atrocities levied against them. The look on one of their faces was filled with horror as tears filled their eyes. The sound of their cries only communicated a desperate plea for help. I was infuriated because the woman could not face justice fast enough.

The worst part about watching this video is I could do nothing but watch it. Why was this video forwarded to me? Why would anyone send this video? Skipping the video exemplifies cowardice and sharing it contributes to a bystander culture. Too often, I see social media users mindlessly record, upload, and post images in hopes of discovering the perpetrator. What happens if the violent act is in progress? It is apparent social media users are focused on attaining visual evidence and out of touch with immediate intervention.

As a black nation, we can no longer ascribe to the mindset of #DoYourThingTwitter. This hashtag may be useful in a few cases, but the overarching effect is it relegates us to sharing videos rather than taking action. It’s time to exit the camera application and enter the phone application.

There wasn’t much I could do but send a report through Facebook and notify the sender to identify who shared this video with him. The internet sources for reporting these crimes are not as accessible as it seems. Calling the police without being able to send the video is a dead end. Besides, sharing the video could be a liability and get you caught up in legal proceedings.

The next time you see a video indicating any forms of violence, especially child abuse, don’t share the video in hopes of somebody recognizing the culprits. Report it to Facebook with whatever details you can find. Activism is based on the actions you take to directly address the situation. Therefore, pressing the share button is a passive gesture.