What is shared on social networks can only make you happy or uncomfortable … but it can also destroy a person’s prestige and lead to death.
In February of this year, an amateur video spread on social media with impressive speed. It took 3 hours for thousands of YouTube users on all continents to see and republish a 99-second clip in which a dolphin trainer was seen during a training session at ‘Marineland’, an aquarium located in Spain. In the video, the coach’s voice could be heard yelling at the cetaceans things like: “Vaga, you’re lazy” and “I’m going to hit you on the head,” in addition to banging noises.
In one week, the video had been viewed more than 200,000 times by users around the world. The news broadcasts also broadcast it and the viralization was strengthened in an unusual way. The outrage of the users of all social networks did not wait, since the general feeling was of solidarity with abused animals and of repudiation of the trainer for the mistreatment he committed.
It was then that, while two animal protection foundations began to file complaints against the trainer, the matter got out of control: comments on the matter ranged from “Poor dolphins!” to “They should hit the coach like this!”; and from slogans like “Take the job out of that one” to “May the coach rot in hell!” On February 26, a newspaper interviewed the coach, who said that he had received death threats through all his social networks and even by telephone. He had lost a promised position in America and he felt devastated. Days later he took his own life.
The viralization did not stop: social networks boiled with expressions of joy such as: “How good that he did it”, “one less bad man”, “justice was done” and thus, little by little the case was forgotten among the users.
The unseen face of this story
José Luis Barbero was not only a dolphin trainer, but also a therapist for children with disabilities. He had helped more than 3,000 children through the so-called dolphin therapy. At the time of the viralization of the video, one of the most important aquariums in the US had offered him an administrative position as the crowning of a long and solid career as a coach. But that’s not all, the police investigations found that the video did not have the genuine audio but had been manipulated and when the creators of the clip were found, they confessed to having done it and disseminated it, all with the intention that the Marineland aquarium from Spain, was investigated for inappropriate procedures. However, nobody hates the aquarium, nobody talks about that place.
Control your reactions
The contents that are published on the internet must be subjected to the same scrutiny and criteria as all the things we see in other media. Reacting without further ado to the things we see there can generate very unpleasant consequences, such as having a fight with an acquaintance, friend or colleague or even giving rise to such tragic events, such as that of José Barbero. It is urgent that the same emotional intelligence that we exercise with the things that we live live, we also cultivate it to face the content to which we expose ourselves on the network.
Empathy: what should never be missing
Developing that emotional intelligence applied to social networks is just a matter of prudence. Asking you to put yourself in the shoes of a trainer who shouts threats to animals might be disproportionate, because you would never do it but you can put yourself in the shoes of someone who is being the victim of a montage: how would you like people to react before an infamous video against you?
Turn off your end of the wick
It is true that our outrage can catch fire when we see a woman beating a child or young people mistreating an old man, but making a video viral is not a complaint in itself and most of the cases we do not know its exact origin or the date on which things happened. Choose not to share these posts as they do not lead to any fixes, complaints, or improvements.
Heal your heart
Don’t overreact to posts. If knowing such a case affects you emotionally in a special way, you can always spread good feelings and help people to stop negative behaviors. If you know of a specific case, you can go to the corresponding instances so that the authorities can take charge. Talk to your close ones about your feelings or seek help from a therapist or spiritual leader. Convey hope and not despair.