Not All Facebook Shares Are Funny

I have something to gripe about today. What can I say? I woke up feeling cranky this morning – it seems like the perfect time for me to vent about something that’s actually been bothering me for a few days now.

Unless you’ve been orbiting outer space along with that thing that just landed on Mars, you will know that on July 20th, a man walked into a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado and opened fire, killing 12 people and wounding 58. Although I know the name of the perpetrator (sorry, alleged perpetrator, to satisfy any legal-minded readers), he will forever remain nameless on my blog. Identifying him by name would feel too much like acknowledging him as a regular person, and I don’t feel inclined to give him that level of respect.

Yes, I know. Innocent until proven guilty and all that. But come on. The guy rigged his apartment with explosives with the intention of killing whoever happened to walk in. I keep hearing talk of possible mental illness, and stories about how everyone including the perpetrator had unrealistic expectations of him and made him snap. So what? Am I supposed to feel sorry for him? Let me just mention something to put that idea into perspective.

12 people dead. 58 people injured. God alone knows how many people who will struggle with heart-wrenching grief and/or PTSD for the rest of their lives.

Anyway. I find myself digressing from my original gripe before I’ve even gotten to it.

The media published pictures of the perpetrator making his first court appearance. We all remember the shot: a dazed-looking man with inexplicable hair seated beside his public defender.

That picture does not bother me. However, the knock-off picture that has started making its lightning-quick rounds on Facebook does. In this picture, the perpetrator is Photoshopped out, and a children’s character with standing-up red hair is Photoshopped in. As troublesome as the picture are all of the “LOL”-type comments that have been added to it.

I’m sorry, is this supposed to be funny?

It probably would be funny if this guy had shoplifted, or been involved in a protest, or been caught driving down the highway at 200 miles an hour.

But he didn’t. He killed people in cold blood.

Here’s the thing about Facebook: just about everyone is on it. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that most of the people who were in the theatre that night have seen that picture. So have friends and family of the deceased.

What goes through their minds when they see what amounts to a caricature of the person responsible for causing such devastation in their lives? How does it make them feel to know that people are seeing said caricature and having a giggle over it? Sure, it could be argued that the laughs are at the expense of the perpetrator, but I wonder if the people affected are capable of seeing it that way.

What do you think of all this? Am I right in thinking that this is all somewhat insensitive to people who have already lost so much? Or do I need to just lighten up a little?

(Photo credit: B.Frahm. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)