Viral Videos: a New Compassion Killer


After the recent Sugar Bowl, the usual smack talk and congratulations and analyzing of what I considered a really exciting football game floated all over facebook, twitter and the like.(Granted, the team we root for did claim the victory!) In the midst of that was a video someone shot in the stands of a woman who looked quite drunk and her husband, who was making attempts to pull her away from a fan of the opposing team she kept inappropriately interacting with. It’s clear the other fan was uncomfortable too. At some point in the video the woman just lauches herself at the man in the sort of moment you usually see in comedic sketches on SNL. It was reckless abandon, full on, throwing herself onto the gentleman. Funny? Yes. But something inside me became increasingly uncomfortable as I watched. I just snapped and turned it off.

It took me a week or so to process what felt so wrong about watching this woman make a fool of herself. Then it hit me. It is exploitation.

This woman, whom I do not know and neither do 99% of the people who watched the video, is a real person. With feelings. With struggles. And with the same brokenness we all have, that causes us to do the wrong thing or drink too much or tell a lie or freak out on our kids or a million other moments we would not want broadcast on Youtube for the rest of our lives.  As I was watching her humiliating moment I thought about her husband.  I wondered if she had a 16 year old son who would be mortified to hear his friends laugh about his “drunk mom at the game” or a neighbor she would be ashamed to face the next morning. I wondered if she had a church family who would love her or shun her after they watched that moment. I wondered why we have become so used to laughing at others shame that we no longer even consider if it’s right or wrong.

“Hey, if she didn’t want people laughing at her she shouldn’t have gotten drunk.”

Fair enough, except if that’s your logic ask yourself: have you ever, EVER, done something in public you would not want played on a video for all the world to see? You’ve never been embarrassed by your own behavior? You’ve never lost your cool or acted like a jerk or lied? Or what about the people you love? Have they ever had a moment you would not want the whole world to remember them by because it’s not an accurate picture of who they really are, but more a picture of them in an issue or a really bad season of life?

This exploiting of  each other’s weaknesses in the name of humor or freedom is wrecking our sense of compassion. It is dehumanizing. It makes mockery of pain and shame. And it stands in stark contrast to Christ. Those who felt shamed by others felt safe with Him. He did not allow one moment or a lifetime of moments to be what defined a person to their society. He gave back to the weak and broken and vulnerable a sense of dignity and honor by the way He treated them.

Caught in the act of adultery? Shamed by the entire community?

I do not condemn you.

Cast out of the village because of a communicable disease?

I will touch your wounds and heal you.

Lied and disowned your faith in Me three times to save yourself?

I still love you, I will restore you, I will use you as a leader.

I have drawn a line in the sand for myself. I will not click on a link or watch a video or read an article that mocks another in their weakness or shame. Period. I am saddened by how many times I have stood back smugly thinking “what a fool,” or “how ridiculous” about another human being. I hope you will consider joining me.  And even more importantly, that we as the church, will be known as defenders of those who fall and fail, since that is who Christ is on our behalf.





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