The Keaton Jones’ video. It all needs to go away.
If you’ve been on social media within the last week, you’ve seen him floating around, by no choice of his own. He found himself in inta-fame world, brought to you by the almighty power of the “viral video”.
Everyone felt terrible for this poor, hysterical boy who was pleading with the world to end bullying.
Very sweet. And innocent.
And the mom should have never posted the video. Because the internet is a terrible place that ruins everything that is good in the world.
That video wasn’t out for 24 hours and suddenly all of the ugly came out: mom is a suspected racist, dad is an imprisoned racist, and mom allegedly is doing all of this for money.
Listen. I want to believe otherwise, at least about the latter. I’m a little off-put by the mom prodding the child but I want to believe she had pure intentions.
The racism piece…meh. That’s looking like its unfortunately true, but that doesn’t take away Keaton’s overall message. Because he’s a child who innocently and wholeheartedly wants people to be kind to one another. Hopefully mom doesn’t teach him to hate people of color, especially now that she’s feeling the heat of all of this fallout. Maybe she’s learned more than one lesson, but the boy’s original message shouldn’t be muted because his mom is potentially an asshole.
Yet, here we are, hearing about how much of an asshole his mom is every.single.day. And that won’t go away. That trumps Keaton’s innocence.
And that’s hurting Keaton.
This 15 minutes of fame is going to continue to hurt Keaton more than it helps. Now he is going to stand out even more so than he did before with his peers. And all kids want to do is blend in. They don’t need the spotlight, they just need to feel like they belong. This isn’t helping him. This isn’t blending in.
I feel for Keaton, and I even feel for his mom. She misstepped on this one. And she needs to stop doing media to backpedal out of it. And we need to stop sharing his video on social media. It’s all bad and terrible for him. All of it. Even the celebrities that have shown their compassion for him. All bad.
And this is coming from someone who pours her soul out for the trolls of the interwebs to read and has learned some tough lessons, on a much lesser scale than that of the Jones’.
Which is why I believe Keaton’s video rubbed me the wrong way from the moment I saw it. I saw too much of my own story in theirs.
I get it, Ms. Jones, I do. Maybe you thought you were helping, like I had thought. I, too, have been accused of having my own agenda in “exposing” my child. I see you. I understand what you’re feeling.
My journey took me off course in social media land, too.
I got divorced. And writing gripped me. It was my savior.
This is when it really hit me.
Words speak to people in ways that penetrate their soul.
People connect through words.
The power of the internet is amazing.
People are identifying with my words.
People want to read my words and connect with me.
I needed these people. They understood me. They empathized. They connected.
This felt amazing.
I felt like I was making a difference, helping people, healing people even. Every reaction and comment gave me energy and a bit of a high. I mattered. I was touching people.
When I began writing about my daughter’s gender identity, the slope started to become a bit slippery.
Scary Mommy wanted to publish my first article on the subject and millions read it.
Whew. This felt big for me.
I will interject here that I have never made one dime off of my writing or any media I’ve done. Not.one.dime. That is important to know.
Because I wrote about a controversial topic, somewhat opposed to the topic of divorce, now I was in a new ballgame.
Negative feedback abounded. Internet trolls came out in force. And personal friends began expressing concerns for how this might affect my daughter in the future.
But I wanted to fight the good fight. I wanted to be a champion, an activist of sorts. I wanted to speak loudly on the subject and really make this all about accepting differences in everyone, accepting our kids for who they are.
This felt important to me because for every negative comment, I was also getting a mom messaging me about her struggles with a child similar to mine. It felt right. I needed this connection. I needed someone, or a bunch of someones, to understand me.
And then media outlets started to reach out to me and wanted my story. And that felt a bit exciting, but also…weird. It felt like now I was possibly teetering on that fine line of overexposing my child.
None the less, I ended up doing one video interview for a British media company called Barcroft. I thought I was still fighting the good fight. You can read here how that went. I’ll sum it up in Cliff Notes and save you the click: it didn’t go well and I regret the day I signed on the dotted line to do it. I should have listened to my gut and not gone forward with any media. It just wasn’t what I was ready for and now that video exists in the bowels of internet hell forever.
And it will affect my child somehow, I’m sure, most likely in a negative way.
So, Keaton and Ms. Jones, I feel you. I get it. But make it stop for yourselves now, as best as you can. Disappear. Stop talking. Silence is the best message now. Be still.
The lesson to all of us is that, instant gratification and that feeling that we are gaining popularity always is a momentary ego stroke, especially if we feel that we are sending a powerful message with our words.
But good intensions can have horrific fallout in social media land. It’s a place we all hate to love. Someone’s sad story told today will be torn to shreds tomorrow in this day and age.
What happened to Keaton is the best explanation of 2017’s landscape to ever have existed.