Okay, so today’s Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) topic is supposed to be about Anti-Bullying Week, but to be honest I just want to write about #roofbreakup. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you will. Basically, a comedian named Kyle Ayers out of Brooklyn, New York, live-tweeted the argument of a neighboring couple while on top of his roof Saturday night. The golden opportunity resulted in a brilliant, comedic documentation of the couple’s demise and thousands of retweets and new followers, myself included. We all know I can’t resist this kind of stuff. However, in light of today’s topic and the fact that the story was picked up across the pond by the BBC questioning The Ethics of Tweeting a Live Breakup, one has to wonder if our use of social media occasionally goes too far.
I’m not by any means suggesting that Ayers did this intentionally to publicly humiliate this couple; and I’m definitely not suggesting he was “cyberbullying.” However desolate the roof appeared, by bringing their fight into a public place the couple carried the risk of having it broadcasted. We know nothing about them, only that the young woman’s name is Rachel, that she is allegedly pretty, and that her soon-to-be-ex is quite the chain smoker. But thanks to #roofbreakup, I’m now fascinated and want to know more about who this couple is, what they do for a living, and about this douchebag guy who seems more concerned about getting pizza than the fact that he is getting dumped for his lack of commitment. I’m imagining Rachel working in some sort of capacity that renders her not as tech-savvy as her peers. I envision her telling one of her girlfriends what went down on Saturday, and said girlfriend probably works in public relations or marketing. In my mind the conversation goes like this:
Rachel: “So DB (douchebag) and I like, kind of broke up on Saturday night. I started asking him about if we were moving in together and he totally avoided the questions. He totally seemed more concerned about pizza.”
Rachel’s friend: “Uh. Wait, what?”
Rachel: “Yeah he was seriously getting texts from a girl the whole time and then denied it.”
Rachel’s friend: “Seriously? Saturday night, huh? Where did this happen?”
Rachel: “We went out on the roof. My roommates were home so we couldn’t talk and you know how DB needs to chain smoke. At one point I asked him if he loved me and he told me, ‘I’m not talking about love on a roof in Brooklyn.’ Seriously? Whatever. F*ck.”
Rachel’s friend (whips out her iPhone and pulls up Twitter): “Um. Rachel, I think there’s something you need to see….”
I admit that I’m just as guilty of social media documentation for comedic/ journalistic purposes. Very guilty. I recently I posted a Facebook status about my neighbor having an argument with her significant other peppered with all sorts of profanity and references to being treated like a whore. People were very entertained and frankly, so was I. I also have entire photo albums on Facebook dedicated to New York State Fair mullets, Wilford Brimley lookalikes (both feline and human), and general train wrecks. Does that make me a cyberbully? I wouldn’t think so. The posts and photos were never taken to intentionally make the subject matter feel bad, but rather as a public service announcement for my peers on “what not to do.” That was until I recently read this article and it got me thinking about how horrible this woman felt when her Halloween pic started circulating online. How might I feel if one of my evenings out were documented or live-tweeted? I have developed pretty thick skin throughout the years and would likely be able to laugh off my “nap” in the Convention Center bathroom if that story surfaced because it’s become a running joke with my peers. Now, would I want my last argument documented for all the world to see? Probably not.
So where do we draw the line with what we post and share? Do we have a responsibility to protect people we hardly know, if at all? I don’t know the answer and that question probably requires more thought and discussion. As a person who loves social media and all things funny, I do applaud Kyle Ayers. This was extremely well-played and whether you agree with it or not, it effectively put him on the map.