Twitter, Facebook, and other social media applications can be a train wreck. Most often they’re either bastions of self-interested posts and opportunities to brag, or they’re full of complaints, harassment, and criticism. Every now and then, social media shines a bright light on humanity’s capabilities for kindness and empathy.
But even that is short-lived, particularly in the case of a little boy named Keaton Jones.
According to his mother, Keaton had been getting bullied at school regularly. One day after picking him up she recorded a heartbreaking video of him asking, through tears, why people bully him, what motive other kids might have to criticize him, and concluding with the hope the bullying he is experiencing will get better one day.
In the video, which Keaton’s mom originally posted on Facebook, he appears to show some mild disabilities but also an uncanny ability to articulate how bullied kids feel. The video has since gone viral and is now showing up on Twitter — it has more than 18 million page views thus far.
Not only are “average” people aware of the video and sending Keaton well wishes, but Hollywood and sports celebrities have taken note and many have posted encouragement and invitations to sporting events. Jarrett Guarantano, a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, immediately met with Keaton to boost his spirits.
So I got the chance to spend the day with my new best bud Keaton. It was unbelievable to get to know him and realize that we have a lot in common. This dude is very special and has changed my life forever. Now I have the little brother I always wanted! God bless you my man pic.twitter.com/vMHVtnf2rC— Jarrett Guarantano✞ (@BroadwayJay2) December 11, 2017
Actor Chris Evans invited Keaton and his family to see the Avengers premiere. Sean Hannity invited him on his show on Fox News. Donald Trump Jr. invited him to his home in Las Vegas. The list goes on. What was, perhaps, one mother’s small effort to show concerned family and friends, and no doubt the bullies themselves, what bullying does to a child, has resulted in sparking a new national conversation about bullying.
I showed my own older children the video, asked them how they felt, if they had ever treated anyone that way, and informed them if they were to do so, they would be wishing they had not.
Unfortunately, the viral video hasn’t produced all good things. Apparently, the video prompted some cynical folks to look into the background of Keaton’s mom, and believe her to post racist remarks on Facebook. Some people are even saying Keaton was being bullied for his own racist comments to other children.
Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen. I’m not saying people shouldn’t have all the facts, but leave it to social media to mar anything that is working for good in the world. Social media has its downsides, but can occasionally showcase not only the worst of humanity but the best as well. If children watch this video and learn kindness and empathy toward one another, or gain the courage to stop a bully themselves, it is well worth the cynicism it also created.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
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