I’ve been following the tale of Cecil the Lion. He was shot to death on an African Reserve by American Dentist Walter Palmer. It’s tragic, and incomprehensible. Frankly, I don’t understand the need to hunt for trophies.
Let’s set aside the anger, disgust, and debate over whether he should be charged for a moment and conduct a thought experiment. What would happen if the pictures didn’t show up on social media?
Nobody would know it happened. Palmer would still have his life complete with dental practise, and we’d be none the wiser. Maybe down the road it would trigger with wildlife groups, or the Zimbabwean government to have him charged. It apparently was considered an illegal hunt.
Nowadays we share every thought in our head, every feeling, every success, every source of irritation online. Seeing a lion up close in its natural habitat is a huge achievement; even I’d be posting a picture on my Facebook timeline. Hunting a lion is an even bigger success. In a twisted way Palmer was doing what was natural by posting those photos. It’s a share everything culture.
There’s safety behind a keyboard in front of a computer screen. It creates a distance, and anonymity that a lot of people use to insult, criticize and bully because we never have to see the target. It’s the uglier side of social media. The negativity would be different if people had to protest him person.
There is no excuse for killing the lion; he should face charges if possible. But watching people hound him out of a livelihood is wrong too. The punishment has to fit the crime, and right now it’s outweighing it.