“I’m driving home drunk,” a woman told the people watching her Friday night live stream on Periscope. “Let’s see if I get a DUI.” Thanks to the people who tuned in, the 23-year-old from Lakeland, Florida, did in fact get one that night.
It’s good common sense to stay away from social media when you’re drunk; you never know when you’ll end up drunk texting an ex, slamming your boss on Facebook or just generally wreaking havoc on your life by having an unfiltered rant on Twitter. In vino veritas and all that, right?
Whitney Beall ignored this little gem of conventional wisdom, and now she’s facing charges for the wild ride she allegedly took on Friday night that included getting behind the wheel after a night of heavy drinking, hitting a sign and popping a flat tire, and driving around aimlessly, slurring profanities until the Good Samaritans who were tuned in to her Periscope channel called the cops. You can watch the whole video below, but be aware that it has a good deal of profanity in it:
Video: Lkld Now/YouTube
This whole story highlights everything that is good — and bad — about social media. Periscope, if you don’t know, is an app that allows you to “explore the world in real time through someone else’s eyes.” It’s an app that allows you to hit record while you go about your business and allows other people to tune in while you do. In some instances, it’s been fascinating; one user recorded their experience in North Korea. Another filmed the Baltimore riots.
Most people, though, just use it as their own personal reality show. Which is fine and a familiar facet of social media — usually boring, almost always narcissistic. That’s the bad in this case: Beall likely assumed people would be absolutely tickled by her “Oh my God you guys I’m sooo drunk, tee-hee” routine that’s common among college students and tweens who don’t know O’Doul’s is alcohol-free. Why shouldn’t she? It was only a few months ago that people were lauding Barbie Jeep girl for her own hilarious dustup with the law. Drunk driving is funny, right?
Well, that’s where the good comes in. People didn’t think it was funny, and they wasted no time in letting her — and the cops — know.
As this woman allegedly drove through the dark streets, slurring on about how she was lost and needed help finding her way home, the people who were tuned in to her stream told her to “call a cab” and pleaded with her to get off the road, telling her she was putting other people’s lives in danger.
When one person called 911, the dispatcher asked how he knew Beall was drunk. He said that was an easy question to answer, as Beall herself admitted over and over again that she was wasted. When the cops caught up to her, they say she was disoriented, reeked of booze, driving on a flat and refused a Breathalyzer. When she reportedly failed a field sobriety test, she was arrested.
Drunk driving isn’t funny. If you’ve been hit by, know someone who has been hit by or have had the grave misfortune of being in the car with a drunk driver, you know firsthand how terrifying it is. And while people may have thought Barbie Jeep girl was cute, that definitely wasn’t the prevailing sentiment Friday night with Beall.
So what’s the difference? Well, it’s one thing to read a wacky story about some coed’s high jinks; it’s something else entirely to witness something like this firsthand. It’s possible the people who were watching were not content to be bystanders while this woman behaved so recklessly. Could you? If you watched someone who was in no condition to drive for the sole purpose of being entertained and then someone got hurt, could you live with yourself?
Whether or not she meant to, Beall recorded a pretty effective PSA that night, and she definitely got the attention she was hungry for when she set up the channel, since this story has gone viral.
It’s lucky for everyone on the roads of Lakeland that night that the headlines the next morning read, “Woman who live streamed while driving drunk arrested” as opposed to “Woman live streams her drunk driving, 2 dead, 1 injured.”
It’s extremely possible that it turned out this way only because people refused to sit back and let it happen while they watched.