As a college student, it never ceases to amaze me how much of my daily news I get from Facebook, and other social media outlets. Most of this news is silly or humorous, and some of it is pure entertainment. Every so often — such as when Osama Bin Laden was killed — it is significant.
But the occasions when this Facebook-as- a-news-source phenomenon stand out to me the most have been when the news being spread is severely troubling.
Last week, I was sitting at my computer browsing Facebook like a typical college student when out of the blue — among the profile picture changes, relationship updates and newly uploaded albums — a particular status on my homepage stood out.
A friend from Houston posted a story about four teenagers from his high school who were arrested after being accused of killing a homeless man over a dollar.
As someone who works with homeless men and women on a weekly basis, I was offended. As a human being, I was appalled.
The four teenagers were charged with capital murder after allegedly robbing and shooting Pedro Miguel Rosales Ramos. The 32-year-old homeless man was shot once in the chest and died on the scene. According to KHOU News in Houston, the suspects’ motive for killing and robbing Ramos was taking the single dollar he was carrying.
I have now been working as an intern at Street Sense for almost three months. In that time I have interacted and worked with countless vendors, making acquaintances and even friends. Their stories challenge the common stereotypes of homelessness.
I’ve met vendors who are veterans, single mothers, and previously employed workers who became victims of an unrelenting economy. I’ve met vendors who take their roles seriously, who treat this like a job and make a living off selling newspapers. I’ve met talented writers and storytellers who love what they do.
When I read about this heartless killing, I was disturbed and disgusted. That someone could do something so heinous, could pick on someone so vulnerable, leaves me with more than just a bitter taste in my mouth.
I was angry when I read that story. I was also embarrassed that a group of people about my age would be charged with doing something so cowardly, and embarrassed that it would be possible for people to display such a drastic lack of compassion.
After reading the story I found it slightly reassuring to see the countless reactions of anger and disgust from my peers. At the end of the day I can only hope that people my age heard this story and reacted the same way that I saw others react on Facebook.
Even if a few people’s perspectives were changed or their minds were opened by this story, then at least one positive can be drawn from an act of senseless idiocy.