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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sex, lies and videotape: Going viral and the consequences!

I typically don't make a habit of posting social commentary unless it has something of value that I can spin off of from a social study or into one. Particularly when Rome is burning, commenting on the lack of water for the plants seems to be inconsequential and putting other more substantive matters on the backburner seems unprofitable. But, this is one of those rare occasions where it seems as if, in this case, our young flowers are being put on display via the internet in any manner of sexually explicit, violent and morally corrupt situations.

A few days ago I was made aware through social media that the sexual prowess of a police officer of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Constable Edmund Lewis Jr., was on display as he filmed a threesome, apparently unbeknownst to the other participants. This police officer also has several other videos of his sex-romps, and one reportedly with an under-aged girl. Officer Lewis has since been arrested and is now currently on remand until March, 2015 when his case is expected to be heard. He was also fired from the police force. Quite an unfortunate situation for all of those involved.

At first thought, one would think that it was an isolated incident of one particular sex-romp and that the contents were stolen from the owner, and somehow it got into the hands of someone that was more than willing to share this private moment with as many persons as possible. But, as we are now led to understand by the charges levied against officer Lewis, he apparently has several videotapes of his sexual exploits with various women, one of them alleged to have been under-aged at the time.

As it turned out, the female participants were extremely angry. To such an extent that there surfaced yet again another video, this time recorded from a cell phone, of one of the female participants and a few of her friends and family members beating the living daylights out of Lewis for filming her with out her knowledge and then sharing it with friends. Of course, this too is a crime. Crimes ranging from assault, kidnapping and perhaps attempted murder if we want to really be harsh.

You see? This is how far it has gotten with the introduction the world wide web. Of course, this phenomenon isn't something brand-new and most certainly something that was going on around the developed countries in large numbers from the early 2000's, particularly with the introduction of social media websites like MySpace and Hi-5. However, it has gotten even more wild and voluminous with the advent of Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram and Whatsapp. Yes, what you do and say can go around the globe 100 times in 10 minutes with just a click of a button.

But, to what extent do we understand that this new form of media and ways to connect with people should be used with responsibility? To what extent to we tell people that we need to understand the value of using social media, and the double edged sword that it is in many respects?

So, as we have seen current, and I am most certain have seen countless other incidences, people going well and beyond the call of duty to share their most private moments with people. People that may or may not have their best interest at heart, but in these incidences, people that surely have no issue with sharing your private moments for their benefit if they have the chance.

But, the issue of social media sharing in such negative ways does not end there. In fact, one can also be a victim without being a participant at all, but by just being there for someone to harass and be privy to things you wish not to be privy to.

I too was a victim of a exhibitionist. A male, who represented himself to me as a Bahamian living abroad, added me as a friend to my Facebook account a few months back. He claimed to have read my articles via the various on-line media sources like the Caribbean News Now, The Bahamas Weekly and the Nassau Guardian.

What then started as innocent chatter between countrymen from the Bahamas but living in separate countries, and for him someone that was living abroad and that claimed to want first hand information of what was going on on the ground, shockingly and without warning ended with him sharing with me a picture of his genitals.

Of course, I went ballistic! Not for the fact that he may be homosexual, or an unashamed voyeur, at the very least, looking to get his rocks off on the shock and awe of his invasion into my inbox with his penis pictures. But it was for the mere fact that he would do something like that, with no warning, and with no solicitation and just would up and send a picture of his private parts to a total stranger. A strange man that he was not sure of who I really was, if I was someone that would appreciate that, or just someone that would take that and make a public spectacle out of it and him, and at the very least share it with the authorities and report it as a case of assault.

In my moment of anger, I did something rash: I shared the picture with his name attached for the world to see. I exposed him, reported the picture and his profile to Facebook and then proceeded to exact my revenge for this invasion of my privacy and conscience.

As you can imagine, the issue of me sharing and exposing the pervert caused some stir. I got it from all sides, from ridicule, to shock, to persons asking me what did I do or say that caused him to want to share his penis picture with me? I assured them that I did nothing aside from talk about the issues in The Bahamas and Caribbean, and from that it may have given him the courage in his deepest and most erogenous spots to do what it is that he did. (Now I know how rape victims feel when no one believes them, or when folks say that it was "their" fault for the rape in some way, shape or form.)

But, as with my moment of anger, who is to say what went through the minds of the persons that share private and sexual videos, and that these expositions don't have a twinge of anger at the root of it all? Or, even worst: A moment of jealousy where you sought to tear down the image of another?

Of course, all three cases are totally separate, but they share the same common thread: In the days of social media, be careful what you share and who you share it with and make it a matter of a priority that you discern this. 

General rules of thumb must be observed:
  1. Do not take off your clothes for anyone other than your committed lover or spouse for anything else other than it being for commercial use, especially for it to be transmitted live via the internet. In some places pornography and the proliferation of pornography is illegal, but there is some leeway for tasteful nudity and shared private art between friends and colleagues.
  2. Do not share "all" of even any of your personal data and/or information on social media unless it is something innocuous or standardized like pictures of your family, your spouse or the schools you have attended and professional affiliations.
  3. Sending lewd or suggestive pictures via your cellular phone, especially one that bears your face or something that can be traced back to you personally, or racy texts to people without their asking, or without them knowing you personally can also lead you into serious trouble.
  4. Filming a crime in progress, especially when you are the perpetrator, is a crime within itself on top of the crime you are committing. Also, withholding evidence from the authorities is also a criminal act and one can face time in prison.
The overarching theme and message here is that you don't know who's out there, what type of security they have on their side of the transmission or how they truly feel about you now, and what they may feel about you in the future.

Secondly, and almost as important as the former, be mindful of what it is you are doing out here in the first place: Be mindful of the laws in place, in particular when you feel something isn't right, or at the very least makes you uncomfortable knowing what you are doing is taboo, socially awkward or just plain wrong!

Be safe. Be smart. Use this wonderful tool of social media wisely. It can be used for our benefit if used properly. But some discretion and common sense must be practiced.

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