The Steubenville Rape Case poses an awful lot of questions about how U.S. prosecutions proceed; many folks were frustrated and disappointed that only promises of immunity allowed for eye-witnesses to come forward. What I’ve found most interesting, though, is that without Social Media – and in fact, the Social Media posted by the convicted rapists – the prosecution wouldn’t have been successful. Adam Cohen’s piece for TIME details this well. The Instagram Posts and Text messages were critical – because the victim herself had no recollection of the attack.
This case tells us an awful lot about what young folks think and feel about their peers. Let alone the actual heinous acts, but the fact that students joked about her being dead, that students joked about the rape, and the fact that students posted these things for others to see – it’s like the victim isn’t human to them. And isn’t that part of what social media does? Isn’t there some element of de-humanization in “talking” to someone online rather than in person? Is that distance – the one where you can’t see a facial expression or hear a tone of voice or observe body language – dehumanizing? If social media is a primary mode of communication between teens – isn’t it primarily dehumanized?