Please Don’t Make My Son Go Viral


viralTechnology, specifically social media, is here to stay – whether we like it or not. Sharing information, photos, and videos with someone you know or the entire internet, can be done with the click of a single button. It seems like there is always a new platform rolling out to make sharing where you are and what you’re doing at all times even more effortless.

There are positives to social media, obviously. It’s fun to keep up with people you don’t have a day-to-day connection with. I enjoy seeing photos of new babies, fun trips, and weddings of my friends and family. This elder millennial LOVES TikTok. It makes me laugh, and sometimes I even learn a new life hack or a cool new recipe. Current events are shared almost simultaneously while they are happening. Social media has become ingrained in our lives, and I, for one, appreciate the connection it brings us…when we choose to engage with it.

When we choose to engage with it. Because you know there is a dark side to social media.

When I see a video pop up of someone showcasing another person’s difficult moment, I cringe. You know the videos I’m talking about. A stranger is having a tough time for an unknown reason, and a bystander’s instinct is to pull out their phone to record it and put it online to try to go viral.

For views. And likes. And clicks.

To get their fifteen minutes of fame. They are putting someone’s bad day on the internet for anyone to see. For clout. And I hate it.

I hate it because it’s wrong. We don’t know the context of the situation or what the person being filmed is dealing with. Perhaps they have a mental illness. Or just got laid off. Or got some devastating health news. We don’t know what the backstory is. Because it’s none of our business.

Maybe, the person being filmed has a disability. That’s where my personal connection is. My son has autism. It can sometimes be considered an “invisible disability,” meaning you might not be able to tell he is disabled at first glance. But I can assure you he struggles. A lot.

Taking him out to social events always puts me on alert. Because while he loves going out to eat, to the movies, or on an airplane for vacation, I never know when he, too might have a tough moment. When his anxiety overcomes his ability to self-regulate.

And I don’t want him to go viral because of it.

When did it become okay and acceptable for us to use the misfortune of others for our entertainment? It’s like we disassociate that these are actual people. My son works really hard every day at school to be the best version of himself he can be. But he is not exempt from having difficult moments. And he shouldn’t be put on blast on the internet because of it.

Thankfully, we have not yet had this happen in real life (yet). But every time I see a video online featuring someone who is struggling, I think of my sweet boy who can’t help the way he reacts sometimes. And the older (and bigger) he gets, the more I worry.

Some grown adults, with the entire reasoning portion of their brain fully developed, are known to be guilty of filming someone, but it’s the younger generation that I worry about. These children never really grew up without a device in their hand, nor a life without instant communication. Let us model better behavior for them and teach them that this behavior is inappropriate and inconsiderate.

Because my son doesn’t want to go viral.