Gossip used to start with a whisper. Now it begins with a video or a post.
The world we now live in is plagued by digital thuggery and foolishness. Following in the footsteps of reality television's deterioration of society and hampering of quality broadcast programming, social media has created a new breed of culture. It's one that uses the socially distant form of personal connectivity and engagement to essentially dumb down society and eliminate traditionally understood, respected and accepted forms of interaction. The ultimate proof?
D'Angelo Russell of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Last week, the Lakers were consumed not by celebrating Kobe's final few games, but how to handle the public relations crisis created by D'Angelo Russell's secretly recorded video featuring teammate Nick "Swaggy P" Young. In the video, Russell sells out Young by recording his admission about being with a younger woman and putting his engagement to Iggy Azalea in serious jeopardy.
In addition, he broke the trust of his teammates, both present and future, and incited the fury of many, including former player Stephen Jackson, who summed the situation up by simply stating "snitches get stitches."
Russell violated on so many levels that they don't even need to be listed. But the situation is indicative of something bigger than snitching. It's a manifestation of the fact that common sense and being a grown ass man have been destroyed by the illusions of social media.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Social media has its purposes and at its core is a perfect way to communicate, interact and express oneself. But the functionality and ease of use has affected today's generation, robbing it of the basic human qualities of possessing common sense and dealing with situations as a grown ass man.
As a child of the '70's, especially one from New York City, we were taught to deal with things face-to-face. You had a problem with someone, you dealt with them personally. Not violently, but personally. You didn't text or post a message to their page. You went to their door or at least picked up the phone.You went to the park and had the conversation by the fence.
In sports, you had your teammate's back. Even if you didn't like them, when you were on the field with them, you blocked for them. On the court, you set the pick for them. The goal was to win as a team, not to win on Instagram by getting the most likes in a week on your latest post.
And you definitely didn't expose the beef outside of the locker room.
The game has changed and people feel they can do what they want without fear of the repercussions. Yet this isn't a recent phenomenon.
We witnessed it twelve years ago in the Malice at the Palace when a fan thought it was ok to throw a cup of beer at Ron Artest. People love to talk smack, especially when the beer muscles start pumping, but then things get real.
People have varying opinions on that night in Detroit, but one thing has always stood out in my mind: how the Pacers had each other's backs. Artest was in the stands and Stephen Jackson was right up there with him, Jermaine O'Neal and many others right behind them. They weren't going to allow anyone to come for their teammate without answering.
A few years later, social media evolved and gave rise to digital thuggery, where people used revealing and damaging posts, as Gang Starr would say, "Just to get a rep."
Taking to Snap Chat, Russell thought he could share the damning video with "friends" and then delete it without consequence. He must have forgotten about Kim Kardashian, or the warning that things posted to the internet can live forever. Or maybe he simply chose to ignore them and set aside common sense. I'm thinking it's the latter.
The thing is, we record ourselves doing dumb stuff all the time. On the road or home, wherever. We go back and watch what we did and said and laugh at ourselves. I guess I just never thought that these pranks we pull on ourselves could have bigger consequences. That was a big lesson I learned.
Come on D'Angelo.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Even Swaggy P, he of video legend, understands that it's best to keep things behind closed doors, even AFTER Russell sold him out. "I think it’s best me and D’Angelo handle our situation in a private manner. It’s something we need to talk about," he said.
That's really big of Nick Young. Others, like Shaq, agreed. O'Neal, himself once a victim of teammate backstabbing, made his feelings clear on the situation:
Did he intentionally try and do it? No … I don’t know where this D’Angelo kid is from. Obviously he has no street common sense. That’s called snitching … I wouldn’t have said nothin’. I would have come into the locker room that day and got suspended. I’d have beat the [ruffles papers] …”
No doubt Shaq would have handled D'Angelo and backed up his words with actions. And could you imagine if he did this to Matt Barnes? Say what you want about Barnes, but no one can ever claim that he didn't address things the grown man way. And although he took some jabs later on through Instagram, Barnes made sure he handled the issue face-to-face before having a little fun at Derek Fisher's expense.
It's a shame that the pursuit of likes and followers have surpassed the use of common sense and the code of brotherhood. It seems like people are more inclined to focus on growing their following through embarrassment and exposure than to deal with situations personally and behind closed doors. Even someone as social media successful as Shaq understands.
The youngsters are so big into getting followers, whatever the hell that means. I’ve got 20 million followers, and I still don’t really know what that means. But the youngsters are so interested in getting followers to make them feel important. He wasn’t even thinking about it. He was just thinking about, ‘Hey, I got Nick Young on my couch. Boom, boom, boom. Let me record it and put it on Snapchat.
While I don't condone violence, there are times when you have to stand up and let others know the deal when they "come out of their face." You don't need a text, post or tweet. You don't need a video or virtual reality. All you need is some in-person time to squash things, without having to share it with the world.
And if that time comes for some "act right", then like Cutty Ranks said "A what dem a try fi do? Try fi test me? You waan test the rocket launcher?"
So stop the pettiness, snitching, digital thuggery and social media stupidity. Use common sense and get your grown ass man on.
Hopefully D'Angelo will learn.
How D'Angelo Russell looks walking into the Lakers locker room pic.twitter.com/ZbXfTHl4LF— Eric Fawcett (@Efawcett7) March 30, 2016