Gesture of love exposes social media ignorance

By Tyler Davis, @TDavis_DE

When sophomore Al Reed dropped to one knee Monday to ask his girlfriend a life-changing question, all he could imagine was the inevitable smile, tears and ‘yes’ he had been dreaming of.

“I made a lifetime commitment to her,” Reed said. “It’s not often you find people at our age that are willing to go above and beyond just to make you happy.”

Jaleia Moore, his fiancée, said she does not like being the center of attention, but answered with an emphatic yes in front of a crowd of their peers in Trueblood Dining Hall. Moore said the response was positive and their bonding was met with applause and cheers.

Advertisement

Reed said he was happy to see the reaction and give the crowd something they will remember.

“The crowd was loud and really, really excited,” he said. “It created a memory for people at SIU. People say college is a place for making memories so being able to give people something like that was pretty cool.”

The admirable attitude of Reed and Moore was quelled by the stupidity broadcast on social media. What was a joyous occasion for a young couple, became the brunt of joke on Facebook and Twitter.

Tweets and comments insulting the proposal, and Reed himself, quickly filled a comment board displaying the picture on the Facebook page “Passed Out SIU.” For those not familiar with the page, this shameful creation of an SIU student was made to embarrass those who fall asleep in odd places. Most of whom were most likely intoxicated.

Reed said he has not been fazed by the criticism and will use the comments and actions of the dissenters as a guideline of how not to act. He said he wants to instill the opposite in his children.

“I like getting different opinions and how people feel about stuff,” he said. “That way I’ll know what to teach my kids and what to not teach my kids.”

This is not the first time social media has sucked the beauty out of an event. Keyboard comedians hide behind their Twitter handles saying awful, disrespectful and prejudiced things on any and every topic daily.

Advertisement

I can see this being a hoot for 12-year-olds. Maybe even a sophomore or junior in high school would see two people happy together and crack jokes. But why is this happening on a college campus?

SIU, which prides itself on its diversity and acceptance, apparently has a large number of judgmental bigots within its student body. Comments on Facebook ranged from calling the brave young man an “idiot” and ridiculing the ring he bought his companion, to racially driven jokes.

Lo and behold, racism surfaces at a university that draws people from all over the state, country and world. Who would think such a thing?

Anyone who has been paying attention to social media knows that the 90s babies are notorious for using social media for derogatory speech. Less than a month ago, a student at the University of Alabama was dismissed from her sorority after she sent a picture message with a racial epithet using the app, Snapchat.

Is this how we, as a university, as a generation, want to be remembered? Hate speech was born and reared by our ancestors. We should not be the population that digitizes, and thereby, expedites hate.

One intolerant Saluki took the Facebook picture as an opportunity to rally the troops for a hashtag titled #stopblackpeople2014. Maybe it was typed in jest, maybe the student wishes to stop black people from doing what they please.

Either way, comments like these are not funny and far from ok.

My simple question is what has happened to society that makes us actively work against one another? What makes us think it is better to complain than compliment, to hate rather than congratulate? The most troubling is our infatuation with ourselves and our tendency to wish ill on others.

Reed said he has noticed these traits in our peers as well.

“If people aren’t involved in situations themselves, they feel obligated to down-talk it,” he said. “They’re not the one receiving something good, so they think, ‘what’s the point in encouraging other people?’”

He hit it right on the head.

People do not feel a sense of unity. Social media has been used to increase awareness about domestic atrocities as well as international ones, but it seems some of my peers would rather use it to insult someone for a retweet or a “like.”

These two getting married should be about their happiness together, and nothing else. Say “congrats” or don’t say anything at all.

Reed said he is not concerned about the insults. He said he has thought long and hard about the decision, consulting friends and parents, and receiving support from both.

“People say when you’re making big decisions you should always seek wise counsel. I did,” he said. “I’ve been figuring it out for myself emotionally and mentally that this is what I want to do. And my parents all for it, they know the type of person they raised me to be, and the values they instilled in me.”

And that’s all that really matters. Happiness between the two, and the support of their loved ones trumps the insults of the hypercritical.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected]on Twitter @TDavis_DE or at 536-3311 ext. 256

Advertisement