Crescent Beach. (Aaron Hinks photo)

EDITORIAL: Keyboard warriors

There is a huge difference between fact-finding and reasonable assessment of cause, and speculation

In the wake of tragedies, the need to find cause – once danger has passed, of course – is all important.

Wisdom dictates that we need to assess what happened, why it happened and what, if anything, we can do now to avoid it happening again.

But there is a huge difference between fact-finding and reasonable assessment of cause and the emotion-fuelled speculation of keyboard warriors. While this may be all-too-human, we have to do better as a society than let assumptions and bias control and cloud our judgments, whether dealing with a heinous crime or a horrendous accident.

The trouble with keyboard warriors is that they need no qualifications or authority to pronounce judgment – just an online device that publishes their whims to the world.

When a person is accused of leaving a dog in a hot car, or another is charged with a crime, or another accused of hate speech, the keyboard warrior somehow feels confident to be both judge and jury. Unattributed third-party accounts of what happened are quickly accepted and repeated as fact. Assumptions are bolstered with personal spin – and usually an attack on the accused perpetrator, or sometimes the victim.

On occasion, the rush-to-judgment appears vindicated; the third-party accounts were right, the charges stick, the snippet of online video accurately portrays what the speaker said.

Too often, however, the process only serves to reinforce error and perpetuate myth.

In the tragic death of the 15-year-old struck by a passenger train near Crescent Beach last Wednesday, keyboard warriors have behaved typically, accepting third-party accounts and repeating them online as fact.

READ MORE: Teenager dead after being struck by passenger train in South Surrey

Assumption is rampant – one person at the scene confirmed that some 50 youths had gathered at the waterfront, and for some this enough. What else could these kids have been doing, they opine, but playing drunken, deadly games with oncoming locomotives?

The fact is that unless you were a firsthand eyewitness, you don’t, as yet, know all the facts – and no one outside of the police or the coroner’s office has the qualifications to make judgments on the matter.

For the rest of us, the only respectful – and responsible – reaction at present is to express our sadness and empathy for those who grieve, no matter the cause of the tragedy.


Just Posted

South Surrey mother guilty of second-degree murder in death of daughter

Lisa Batstone ‘took seven decades of Teagan’s life’

Surrey mom says Liberal budget falls short in helping people with autism

Louise Witt, whose son has autism, says budget provisions like ‘putting a Band-Aid on a cancer’

Missing Surrey woman ‘located and safe,’ police say

Kayla Amy Smith, 30, who was reported missing last month

Surrey’s animal bylaw ‘basically useless,’ says critic

South Surrey senior asks mayor to revisit city’s rules, following dog confrontation

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

VIDEO: Giants take a 1-0 playoff series lead

Vancouver beat Seattle 7-1 in game one of the best-of-seven Western Conference series in Langley

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

Six ‘distraction thefts’ in two days spark warning to seniors by Vancouver police

Distraction thefts are used to steal jewelry off the necks of unsuspecting women

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Most Read

l -->