Life is full of moral dilemmas.
It’s always saddening to hear of friends’ misfortunes, more so when they come from the result of someone being ‘ethically challenged’. Whatever we feel about social media, it has allowed the sharing of stories more rapidly. I just read the simple case of a friend’s encounter with another driver during and after an accident a few days ago. I have no reason to doubt her story and taking it as true, I wonder about the action of the other driver: first admitting guilt, then denying it. The survival instinct? I remember my first-born telling me of an accident she had over the weekend, when a cyclist drove into her car. She and the cyclist were unhurt, but her car had some damage. She mentioned to me that the rider’s breath smelt of alcohol, and I immediately asked if she had called the police. She had not, and then went on to say that she was unsure of what she should have done. I replied that once you suspect the other party’s judgement to have been impaired, better to get the law officials involved, because the case is no longer just an accident. What would have happened afterwards we can only place as a matter of conjecture.
When I read how some stories have gone viral on the Internet, via Facebook, Twitter, and media such as those, I wonder if my friend, or my daughter, need to harness the power of them to out the culprits. Would I have taken a photo of the Cadillac driver in my friend’s case, or of the supposedly drunk cyclist in my daughter’s case, and posted them with some visceral comment? Who knows, we may find that by doing that the persons involved are not on ‘strike one’, but maybe should have been dealt with harshly before. If you are a ‘nice’ person, is it being not nice to deal with miscreants that way? I’ve thought about this a lot over past months following a hit-and-run incident when the driver drove away–perhaps genuinely unknowing that his van had collided with the car I was driving.
To use social media to help redress misdeeds is not the action of a vigilante, but is it taking civil action too far? The problem is that it is not a route without risks, not least because those who cannot respect truth can easily use the same route to spread untruths. A tough tight rope to walk.