social media

#HisNameIsCayden and a lesson I learned from The Good Wife

I'm in the middle of catching up on Season 6 of CBS' The Good Wife. It's been hard to tear myself away from the TV; the cost of binge-watching any show is less productivity, and I'm no different. (I'll also mention that my dreams are being invaded by characters from the show: Lamont Bishop -- why are you so bad but so fine?)

But tonight I'm forcing myself to take a break and check in with the rest of the world. How are you, world?

A few days ago, I saw on Facebook the viral story about the white guy who posted a photo of himself and his co-worker's young, black son. His friends went in, making vile, ignorant racist jokes about the kid, a precious 3-year-old named Cayden. The poster (Gerod Roth, aka Geris Hilton) never had the balls to stand up for him, admonish his friends or delete the comments, and ultimately was fired from the Atlanta marketing firm he worked at. 

In the wake of the story making national headlines, the hashtag #HisNameisCayden caught on to show support for the little boy.

According to Fox5 News, Roth says he simply made the photo his profile image because he thought it was a cute picture, and feels the post was "taken out of context."

While most of the ignorant commentary -- or jokes, the commenters might call them -- came from his social network, Roth also chimed in on the banter. When asked by someone who the child was, he responded that the kid was "feral."

Roth tells Fox5: “A person said, 'Oh, you mean to tell me that you just have wild kids running through your office building?' And that's when I said 'he was feral.' That was interpreted as racist and that, honestly, was not my intention whatsoever.”

The thing is, there is no sarcasm or joke font on the Internet, so anything you put out there can and will be taken for it is. More importantly, Roth is a marketing guy. Even at 25, he should understand the power of imagery and words on the Internet. 

Roth did eventually send Cayden's mother an apology, which she says didn't "seem sincere." I agree. 

The whole ordeal reminds me of a great lesson from -- ahem -- The Good Wife. Alicia Florick, the main character, is running for political office, and her campaign managers tell her, emphatically, might I add, not to say anything in jest in public because it could be turned around and used against her. In a later episode, a note in which she jokingly threatens to stab her daughter's gym teacher hits the Internet waves, and bloggers have a field day.

The Gerod Roth thing, though, is about more than making stupid jokes. It's just another example of how so many people hide under the guise of the Internet and let their true ignorance and racism fly. (Never, ever read the comments of news media sites' Facebook posts -- you'll only regret it.) 

Not only did Roth not squash what was happening on his Facebook page, but none of his other friends put any of those commenters in their place either. Not even for an innocent child, one who's yet to really understand the harsh cruelties he'll face in this world because his skin color is a little darker than others. That's what's really disheartening.