I’m putting everyone on Tumblr in a time out. I think the time for this has long since passed, but better late than never. Everyone step back from your keyboards, please. You there, Photoshopping Branson’s face onto a Winter’s Tale poster, stop. Yes, you too, you with the large collection of incredibly uncomfortable pornography you intend to reblog between Disney GIFs and worshiping Obama because “OMG our President went on The View, he is SO cool!” It’s time we all take a step back and remember how reading and research work, because both are quite important when you stop writing fanfiction and start writing petitions.
I was scrolling through my dash (timeline or feed for those of you not on Tumblr) this morning and was met with the same post again and again. A young man was found guilty and could face up to 30 years in prison. He had been shot in the head and rendered blind by a police officer during an arrest. The main point of contention was whether or not he had a gun and pointed it at the officer. As everyone on Tumblr was apparently present at the shooting, he didn’t have a gun and the cop is a right-wing pig who deserves to die… Impartial, Tumblr, I like it. In the courtroom it came down to one person’s word against another’s. Naturally a slew of people have reblogged this post and signed the petition, but the problem I encountered was I’ve never heard of this case. I didn’t know anything about it, the circumstances surrounding the arrest, when it happened, the only thing I was told by Tumblr was that it’s a miscarriage of justice, that I should be outraged, and that it happened in New Jersey.
To the Google machine!
So the incident occurred in 2010. And that was the most concrete fact I could find in the first three pages of results. Until I came across one from 2011, posted by the state with links to the indictment. But a little bit of work had to be done to arrive here. And I’m willing to bet most people saw: “Signal boost or I will judge you” on the post and signed immediately, because no one wants to be judged by strangers online. That’s the beauty of the Internet; everyone knows that if they want to force people to do something all they have to threaten is “judging you.”
Let me put this in terms everyone can understand… You remember the episode of Downton Abbey where Gregson had Edith sign a bunch of legal papers without reading them first? NEVER SIGN ANYTHING WITHOUT READING IT FIRST. What did we all do after she signed them? We judged her for the stupidity of the action. I can’t stress that enough. If you are signing a petition do some research first, never take someone’s word for it. If you’re demanding justice for a person who was just found guilty in a court case, make sure there wasn’t also a litany of drug charges that even his attorney expected him to be found guilty on. Do not make decisions based on sad pictures and what someone with a unicorn avatar has told you. This is a website that likes to praise individuality, but threatens judgment and harassment if you disagree with them.
So a new rule for Tumblr and the Internet in general: do some research before you sign a petition, read the bill before you decide to protest it, and check out the politician before you vote for them.
All right, time out over.