EDITOR’S COLUMN: Murderer’s Facebook Post Reveals America’s Darker Side

This undated photo of Steve Stephens was provided by the Cleveland Police.

The unexplainable random shooting of a Cleveland senior citizen by a deranged city resident which he then posted on Facebook has been at the forefront of the news and social media since the murder took place on Easter Sunday.

And while the public can now rest after the murderer, Steve Stephens, took his own life after being cornered by police, there are still many things that must be sorted out.

Of course, the pain that the family of Robert Godwin, the 74-year-old patriarch who was killed without any reason or provocation, will remain for a very long time. A father of 10 going about his daily activities lost his life senselessly. I cannot imagine how they feel — or how they will pick up the pieces.

Meanwhile, many have pointed the finger at Facebook for allowing such a heinous video to be posted and then to remain for viewers to examine and share for more than two hours before finally being taken down by Facebook staff.

Perhaps it would be wise for Facebook and others who allow live-streaming to consider including a time delay before videos can be viewed. That would allow for a computer program to be employed that could scan for certain kinds of videos and disallow their being posted. That could be one solution.

Still, I’m more troubled by the fact that so many people not only viewed the video, but shared it with others. Have we become a society that “enjoys” seeing the pain of others? Do we like viewing death? Do we celebrate experiencing the darker side of life — albeit through vicarious means?

I have to admit that I’m not a real social media fan to begin with and don’t even make videos, much less post them for viewing. But I realize that they can be enjoyable — like watching the scenes of my grandson smiling, singing and being a happy 3-year-old boy.

That’s why I like having videos streamed online. But even those could be reviewed before being posted.

Maybe I’m rambling a bit here but I hope you get the point. We often want others to police our actions. We want Facebook and the like to do the right thing while we do just the opposite. Social media has many benefits when used properly. But in this case, those who viewed and shared should consider the role they played in this tragedy.


About D. Kevin McNeir – Washington Informer Editor 177 Articles

Kevin, an award-winning veteran journalist, book editor and educator, is the editor for The Washington Informer where he displays a keen insight for political news, editorial development and lifestyle features. A staunch Wolverine, the Detroit native left a promising career at IBM to pursue his passion for writing under the tutelage of the late Sam Logan, founding publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. His journey has continued to press rooms in Grand Rapids, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and currently Washington, D.C. With two master's degrees from Emory University and Princeton Theological Seminary, he finds great joy in his children and grandchildren and is completing his first book, "Growing up Motown" which chronicles his childhood memories with legends like Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston, the Four Tops, the Miracles, Gladys Knight, Berry Gordy and the Jackson Five.

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