The virtual world went all aflutter yesterday afternoon when a live Fox News feed of a Phoenix car chase turned deadly.
The victim -- I'm going to call him a victim here, even though, had things ended differently, he would be called "suspect" -- was seen running from the allegedly carjacked vehicle when he stopped, pulled out a gun, and fired upon himself.
There's no sound in the video, and there's no gore, but it's at this moment that commentator Shep Smith begins to say "Get it off" repeatedly and with increased urgency.
Cut to the studio, where Smith is still shouting at the producers to get the video off the screen.
Cut to commercial.
Immediately BuzzFeed and Mediaite put it up on their website. Those who were following the car chase and updating their twitter accounts started tweeting like crazy.
Within seconds, the video was on YouTube and tweeted by several major news outlets.
Okay, here's the thing. I understand there was a five-second delay between the actual events and the streamed footage on television. I understand they probably could have caught it before it aired.
But I doubt anyone was looking for it.
The reason they catch all of the swearing on live pop culture events is because there is a team of people sitting within that five-second delay consciously focusing on the language. They have tuned their mind to what they are supposed to hear, so they can react efficiently.
If Fox News had known the chase would have ended so tragically, they would have put someone there watching specifically for the act.
Actually, they would never have aired the event at all.
We cannot blame Fox News for this. We can, however, blame BuzzFeed and Mediaite and all of the other news outlets who spread the video like Internet wildfire. They knew how it turned out, and they pressed "Share" anyway.
We keep hearing that we need to be more conscious about what we put online, specifically with our own social networking profiles. We hear again and again how the pictures we post and the words we use in our statuses can affect the way we are perceived by others (the first impression no longer happens face-to-face) and even the kind of job or college scholarship we get.
It's time for us to be more discerning about what we post when it comes to violence and hot topics.
I know this video will probably be shown on the six- and 10-o'clock broadcasts, and it will probably be covered by other sources who claim they have the "newest update."
I've seen the video, only once, and I can say that I won't be forwarding it to anyone, and I won't be watching it again.
Things like this do not help anyone by watching.