Last week, The Root published an article about a father who grabbed his daughter by the hair and proceeded to beat her with a belt in a clip when she finally came home after being out and about for three days. For 19 seconds she is whooped Joe Jackson-style all the while being called derogatory epithets and being asked: "You wanna be a grown woman?" while being filmed--and put on Facebook. Since it was posted, the video has accumulated over three million views.
There are quite a few of these types of videos that have gone viral recently. Many have been extreme forms of discipline, such as the father who beat his teenage daughter's for twerking, and my personal favorite from a few years ago: the dad who shot his daughter's laptop after coming across her vent session on social media.
Today's a new day. Social media is prevalent in most of our everyday lives (First World problems). While I am all for disciplining children for major infractions, I think there's a fine line. We're in the information age and for better or worse, many of us share our thoughts, feelings, relationships, and personal business on these "internet streets." As a teenager we all rebelled against our parents in one way or another. We mumbled things as we stomped out of the room, when they reprimanded us, danced suggestively/drank at parties, thought we were grown having sex, and even some of us became parents as teenagers. There's virtually nothing new under the sun except the internet. As opposed to just sweeping it under the rug and parents not knowing about it, kids now post their lives on social media.
Why do parents share their disciplinary actions? Everything these days is about sharing. Social media has changed how we do everything from how we receive our news, it's the primary way that advertisers try to reach consumers, and even dating is a social media game. In that same vain, I think that's one reason why parents post these videos. I think the other reason is the public shaming. The thought process is that by virtually tarring and feathering their offspring it will make them think twice about their behavior. But like I said as we get older we forget that teenagers are rebels and will only get sneakier by trial and error.
Why do we as viewers partake? Honestly, I think that it's because it's entertaining. We as parents get a little of a laugh and maybe a portion of us vicariously live out our feelings of: "I'd kill my kid if they did that" knowing that we really wouldn't. We let it become water cooler talk to share horror stories that in hindsight are funny moments. Those who aren't parents get to laugh and say: "That's why I'm not having kids" or "If my kids did that I'd do the same thing."
It's the kind of things we see in movies and think they're funny or terrifying but it's palatable because it's not us. We love viral videos from Youtube, Vine, and Instagram because it's what we loved about reality television because it's "unscripted" drama. We get to see others acting a damn fool, be entertained by it, and then go our own merry way. However, for whomever is the recipient of these incendiary actions it's no fun at all, embarrassing to say the least. Not only did they get publicly reprimanded but they are humiliated for their friends, family and the world to see. I'm sure someone has walked up to these children at one point or another, looked at them for a long time, and someone may have even said something to them that reminded them of their moment of infamy.
In the end, what good does blasting these beating videos do for anyone?