Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Almost a week ago, shortly after Vancouver's hockey riot, a number of presumably young people, in many cases very likely still drunk or high on adrenalin, stumbled to their computer keyboards and updated their Facebook statuses. Keen to boast, no doubt also to exaggerate (and in some cases to invent) their contributions to the evening's antics, they celebrated the disturbance and their part in it. With dodgy syntax and an even shakier grasp of spelling, they gloried in the violence.

If you live in Vancouver, there is every chance that you know their names and what they said. Their updates have been plastered on the numerous "name and shame" social media vigilante sites. One of them has even had his status update set to music, in a song that denounces him as a "fucking moron." They have been forced to remove their Facebook pages, recant or apologize, and even go into hiding as a tide of righteous vengeance sweeps the Lower Mainland.

At around the same time, perhaps a little earlier, a rather larger number of presumably somewhat older people, who in many cases had enjoyed a beer or glass of wine or two in front of the TV and high on adrenalin, also went to their computers or grabbed their laptops and updated their Facebook statuses. Keen to broadcast their views on the scenes of disorder, looting, and overturned cars in downtown Vancouver, they cheered on the police's part in the disturbances. Often invoking the hockey chants that had resonated throughout our team's playoff run ("Go Canucks Go!!!") they called for still more violence, if need be unaccountable to any authority, to be rained down on the troublemakers.

(Fortunately, the Vancouver Police Department didn't hear or listen to these calls, and beyond the use of tear gas and pepper spray generally refrained from physical violence against the crowd.)

Whether you live in Vancouver or not, there is little chance that you remember this second group of people's names and what they said. Their updates received their share of "likes" at the time, but are quickly fading into history. Nobody calls these upstanding citizens morons. None of them has had to remove their Facebook pages, recant or apologize, let alone go into hiding. It seems that there's no problem glorying in violence so long as you pick the right team, and join the tide of righteous vengeance rather than going against the flow.


Anonymous said...

I feel badly for the immature expression of emoition that seems to have been expressed in Vancover as a result of the loss of a game.  It could have been anywhere.  Hopefully this outburst will be a source of a community looking at itself and deciding a better way to give vent to it's positive and negative feeling.

Human nature as it is, the blamegame wins and patterns of emotional expression continue.  Perhaps this time it will move this seemingly beautiful city to a new place of honor.

rafas said...

Vancouverites' hypocrisy and double standard = small town mentality

Gabriel Macario said...

<span>I have some video footage of some VPD officers involved in a "rough" arrest on the streets of East Vancouver. Now, should I post this footage on the internet first and risk denying the officers "due process"? Or, should I submit the footage to the police first.

Jon said...

Gabriel, all this certainly does show the ambivalence of social media.  There had been people who thought it was simply a matter of empowering ordinary people.  But it's not so simple.

Here I'm simply talking about status updates, of course.  But when it comes to the video and photographs, part of the problem in this case is that there are so many images that they are not getting properly investigated.  Look how long it took for the most famous image of all (the so-called kiss) to be given context so that a fuller narrative could emerge.

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