Just a couple days ago the city of East Liverpool, Ohio shared a gruesome image of two people in a drug-induced unconscious state while in a vehicle with a young child in the backseat. If that scenario doesn’t grab your attention, then I don’t know what will.
In just two days the original post received over 4K comments, 10K reactions and over 20K shares. I’ve always been intrigued with media that goes viral. Whether it’s a Facebook post, a tweet or the next YouTube sensation, there’s always some characteristic that draws in views and shares. In this case that characteristic is “shock and awe” and the inability to look away. Since the original post on September 8, 2016, the story has been shared by The Washington Post, NBCnews.com, The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed.
Here’s the story as shared by The Washington Post: CLICK HERE
It’s obvious that this country has a drug problem and it’s obvious that users of the Internet love and feed off of controversy, and this story is not short of controversy. There’s the drug problem, there’s the “love to hate or hate to love” drug Narcan that resuscitates people who have overdosed, and there’s the image of the scene itself.
Many people are up in arms over the original post because the city decided not to blur the child’s face. I’m sure the city had its reason for not doing so, even if it wasn’t the popular decision. At the same time, I’ve read plenty of reasons that the child’s face should have been blurred.
I’m not here to question ethics or debate about what should or should not have been done. Instead, I want to focus less on the “how and more on “why” the photo was shared in the first place. Here are some of my thoughts and rhetorical questions to consider.
- I think the post was shared to stir discussion around the plague-like drug problem we have at our hands. Would this specific issue be so far widespread if that photo hadn’t been shared the way it was? Mission status – accomplished: we’re discussing.
- I think the post was shared to show that small towns are just as much (or more) at risk as large cities. Mission status – accomplished: the story about East Liverpool, Ohio has been shared internationally.
- I think the goal was to get people to focus more on the drug issue than anything else. Mission status – questionable?
While people are spending time debating about how the photo should have been shared, I feel like the reason the photo was shared has blatantly been disregarded and that little is being done to resolve the real issue at hand. It’s incredibly easy to feed off of controversy, fear and hate that is shared in the media. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a positive change in the world because it truly requires more than just sharing opinions in a social media post. Change requires action.
I’m not a doctor, therapist, addiction specialist or medical professional of any sort, but I do have a voice and I want to use if to offer assistance, if possible.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the resources below are available so you can take action and offer the help that is needed.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – Visit www.drugabuse.gov or call 301-443-1124.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Visit www.samhsa.gov or call 800-662-4357.
- AddictionResource – Visit www.addictionresource.com.