No matter how much we hate violence, it’s hard to look away from a scuffle. There’s something about human nature that draws us to the spectacle of a fistfight, especially when it’s unexpected. Thanks to social media, the crowds that gather around school fights have grown exponentially. The results are just as disgusting as you’d expect.
#RIPBilly is trending on Twitter and Vine thanks to a series of short videos that depict two kids, who appear to be older middle school students or high school students, getting into an altercation in a classroom. One, dubbed Billy, instigates the violence by throwing what looks like an egg or a ball of paper. The apparent victim of the projectile (as my physics teacher used to say when fights broke out) calmly walks up and punches Billy in the face, sending him to the ground. Shockingly the teacher seems to remain uninterested throughout the incident, sitting at his desk and failing to discourage any of the fighting.
Why didn’t the teacher do anything? From the extremely limited context, it seems like Billy was instigating a fight. He doesn’t appear to be the victim of random bullying. But no matter how much of a jerk a kid is being, it’s a teacher’s responsibility to curb violence in the classroom. If we talk about anything, I think it should be the role of teachers and administrators. Should a teacher be expected to step in between kids who are the size of adults? Is it safer to watch and do nothing?
Why are we seeing this video in the first place? Whether or not you like it, kids frequently upload videos of fights. They’re usually shared because people think they’re funny. As someone who attended a middle school where a young girl was raped by two students and other students were frequently picked up by ambulances after brutal fights, I have a hard time understanding how kids and adults get worked up in a delighted frenzy over violence. But here we are in 2014. Almost everyone has the ability to record and share videos, and fights or worse can go viral in minutes. To kids, there’s glory to be had in that.
As awful as the short video is, it’s important to follow the conversations surrounding it. The circumstances of the fight have sparked racial debates on Twitter as well as debates over what we share on social media and why. We may never know the exact circumstances surrounding #RIPBilly, but we can’t afford to pretend it happened in a vacuum or that our kids aren’t exposed to violence even when it didn’t happen in their classrooms.