Among the countless tweets and Facebook status updates reacting to last night’s announcement that a grand jury would not indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, I found one particularly frustrating, and not for its viewpoint.
One friend posted, “Is there anyone or any evidence that disputes the testimony that the officer was assaulted as a part of this tragedy?” A comment thread now 36 replies long ensued, but my friend is nowhere to be seen. It gets ugly and out of control, and the person responsible for it disappears. This is a failure of responsibility.
Social media allows everyone to have their say, but that’s not the real value of Facebook and Twitter. These tools allow all of us to facilitate constructive conversations with people we know and people we don’t, and when something like Ferguson happens that opportunity is huge. But you do more harm than good when you throw a thought onto your wall and then hide while people fight over it. Have your say, sure. But then stay engaged. Do the hard work of leading your people in a constructive conversation. Don’t bail.
If you need guidance, Landon Whitsitt does this better than anyone I know.