“Don’t believe everything you see on the internet.” – Abraham Lincoln
I’ve been unfollowing a lot of people on Facebook in recent days. See, unfollowing is a thing that Facebook allows you to do if you don’t want a particular person’s posts to continue showing up on your newsfeed.
I know, I could simply unfriend people and have that be the end of it. But see, I’m under the assumption that everyone adores the things I post on Facebook, so if I just unfollow them, they still get to see my moments of hilarity without me having to deal with their alt-right and/or alt-left ridiculousness*. If I unfriend them, then they won’t get to see my stuff anymore and their lives would be less for it**.
Last night I came across a video that someone had shared which caused a great deal of anger inside me. It made me angry enough to unfollow this Facebook friend. It wasn’t anything political, which is kind of surprising considering the sheer volume of political crap on social media.
No, this video was from an incident that occurred in a McDonald’s in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I won’t share the video because I don’t want to give its owner more publicity than he already has.
The video depicts a police officer attempting to remove an assumed homeless man from the McDonald’s for apparently harassing customers and trespassing. Appalling, right? The young man filming this encounter goes on to become extremely vocal (which is a nice way of saying he’s flat out yelling), saying that McDonald’s and the police officer suck for kicking this guy out just because he’s homeless.
Patting himself on the back, he makes it clear that he invited this homeless man into McDonald’s with him to buy him a meal. That’s real sweet and all, but you becoming belligerent with the police and restaurant management isn’t going to change their minds about removing this homeless man, whether you bought food for him or not. In fact, all it does is cause them to want to eject you from the restaurant, too.
Which is basically what happens next. The manager first asks him to lower his voice, at which point this guy claims this is just how he talks, he has a naturally loud voice. Yeah, I don’t buy that. You’re just trying to make a scene.
And why would he be making a scene? Because he’s filming the entire thing. I haven’t seen a more one-sided film about the evils of McDonald’s since Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me.
So what is it that made me mad about this video? At first, I was tempted to be angry about the homeless guy getting kicked out. But I pushed that away when I quickly realized that I don’t know the whole story. Maybe this homeless guy has been a continued presence in or around this McDonald’s. Maybe he has asked restaurant patrons for money in the past and has been asked to leave. Maybe there have been multiple complaints made by customers and that’s why the police were called to step in.
The truth is, we can’t possibly know the entire truth to this story because all we are allowed to see and hear is what the guy holding the phone wants us to see and hear. And he wants us to see and hear that his new friend, the homeless guy, is clearly getting kicked out of McDonald’s simply because he is homeless.
That’s what makes me mad. This self-important do-gooder with the camera is not objectively sharing with the world what’s really going down at this McDonald’s. We see the last few minutes of their confrontation with a police officer and restaurant management. Even after he’s asked to leave several times, first by the manager, then by the police officer, he continues to make a scene by insisting that he get his money back for the food he hasn’t finished eating. When it’s made clear that’s not happening (because he could take his food with him, this isn’t the Olive Garden), he demands a receipt. He claims he never got a receipt. What he wants to do with his receipt, I don’t know. He never makes that clear in his loud and pointless rant. So he gets a new copy of his receipt, just as another employee hands him the one that was ON HIS TRAY THE WHOLE TIME. Idiot.
There’s more to this that makes me angry, though. I noticed that the video has had well over 3 million views. I’m kicking myself for giving him one more.
Also, the copied/pasted caption accompanying the video gave us the physical address of this Myrtle Beach McDonald’s. I guess that’s so we can all steer clear of that particular fast food joint because they kick out homeless dudes just for being homeless.
And the cherry on top of this sundae of ridiculousness? The guy had the nerve to shoot his video vertically! Look, if you’re doing a Facebook Live or Insta/Snap Story, sure… vertical video is fine. But if you’re trying to make a completely biased statement about the way homeless people are treated in Myrtle Beach, you need to tilt your phone to the side. Idiot.
Look, I’m not saying that restaurants should kick out homeless people just because they’re homeless. Or because they’re dirty. Or because someone else purchased their food for them. What I am saying is that we cannot and should not formulate opinions about this (or any other) situation based on only part of the story. I don’t know why the police were called in to deal with this man. But I seriously doubt it was simply because someone bought him a Big Mac and fries and let him sit in the dining area with the rest of the customers.
People, please, stop sharing these videos. By doing so, we’re making it okay for people to push whatever agenda they feel entitled to push, without presenting us with actual facts.
*Apologies if you are alt-right and/or alt-left and I have offended you. You are entitled to your beliefs and opinions. I’m also entitled to unfollow you so I don’t have to see them anymore.
**I’m not actually this conceited. I just pretend to be so my true lack of self-esteem doesn’t shine through.