Anyone that has met me know that I have a sense of humor. Sometimes it’s a bit bleak but I always understand there’s a time and a place. If I spot something that seems out of place, shocking or funny I will gladly point it out to a friend to share a laugh or perhaps relive the tale later.
The last thing I would do is take that same moment and share it with over 9 million people.
On June 27, 2014 that’s exactly what was done by Imagine Dragons.
While walking through an airport in Sweden one of the band members spotted a man wearing what is referred to as a mankini (I think). Now, I can totally see nudging my buddies to take a look and share a look of “what” and leave it at that. The band took it one step further by videotaping and man and posting the video to both their Instagram and Facebook pages. The combine total of their following on these sites is just shy of 10 million people.
I first saw the video on my Instagram feed and was very upset at what I was seeing (I’m having trouble embedding the video here but it can be found on their Facebook page in the June 27th posts.). I took the time to compose my thoughts and posted them on the comments for both the Instagram and Facebook posts.
” Dear Imagine Dragons, I am going to kindly request that you remove this video from this and any other feeds. Whether you realize it or not, this is a form of cyberbullying and sending the wrong message to your 9 million plus followers here on Facebook. I know for a fact that many young people look up to you as role models and inspirations and by posting a video like this and laughing at someone who is different, you are delivering the idea that doing something like this is not only okay, but funny. I am a big fan of yours, with your CD playing almost non-stop in my car and seeing something like this on your feed is greatly disappointing. Please consider the impact that you have on the beliefs and values of your fans before posting photos and videos such as this. Imagine this person is a fan of yours and sees himself on your Facebook feed being made fun of. How do you think that would make him feel? How would it feel if someone did this to you. You have the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many and that is not something that should be taken lightly. Thank you.”
As it has been a number of weeks since this has taken place and the video remains intact, it’s safe to assume that my comments have gone unnoticed by the band. They, however, did not go unnoticed by fans who were quick to stand by the band’s actions (click image to enlarge and read).
Rather than getting into a heated debate with these and other comments I decided to sit down here and share my full thoughts on this.
While I completely agree that it was never the band’s intentions to bully this gentlemen, their actions led others to negative actions and comments. It took a while to find a comment “tame” enough to share. While many were just admiration of the band, others took their comments to the offensive level, sharing slurs and worse. Whether people realize it or not, this is a form of bullying and invasion of privacy.
Yes, this man was dressed in a way that certainly grabs your attention and I’m certain that the band aren’t the only ones that snapped photos and shared on social networking sites. But they were the ones with millions of followers.
As I mentioned in my comment to them, they are setting the standard for their fans. I have seen so many comments on their posts about how much they inspire people through good and bad. That is a lot of power to have and not something to take lightly.
Again, I’m one for a good chuckle but broadcasting this out to millions around the world is a bit much. It’s sharing the message that doing this is funny and okay. This is telling their millions of young fans that they can do this do and watch it go viral.
But you have to take the time to think of the people on the other side of this. Again, yes, clearly this man was wanting attention but how much? Based on some comments I read, this was more than likely a dare for a bachelor party. Something shared among those seeing it and that’s it.
Imagine Dragons gave him worldwide attention that perhaps he didn’t want.
It’s important to take a step back and think about actions. This is something I’m constantly telling my student audiences. Just because we have the power to share something with the world, doesn’t mean we should.
I’m once again going to ask that the band please remove this video from their feeds and take time to consider the full impact of their posts in the future.
Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com
You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.