AHHHHHH!!!! THE INTERNET!!!!
How can something be so, so alluring and yet let us down every single damn day?
The latest heart-breaking internet tale comes courtesy of Twitter, where you may have come across a viral video of a man shaving on a train heading from New York City to New Jersey.
The minute-long clip, posted last Thursday, shows a man quietly shaving his face on a train carriage – unusual, yes, but he really isn’t hurting anybody.
But the clip – which attracted nasty comments calling the man, for example, an ‘animal’ and news stories which were headlined ‘Please, Please Don’t Shave On Public Transportation. Don’t be this guy’ – has been watched nearly 3 million times.
And I’ll admit: I watched the video and found it vaguely amusing because, let’s be honest, we’re all just content-hungry online monsters, aren’t we? We’re all in this same sinking social media ship together.
But it turns out there is an important story behind the video and that we all should have been more thoughtful before piling on.
According to the Associated Press, the rail passenger in the video was just trying to clean up after days spent in a homeless shelter.
Anthony Torres, 56, said: “My life is all screwed up. That’s the reason I was shaving on the train.”
Torres, who sometimes sleeps in motels or bus shelters, was heading to stay with his brother in New Jersey and simply wanted to make himself look “presentable.”
“I don’t want to say that I’m homeless, let everybody know,” he said. “That’s why I was shaving.”
The commuter, who had a difficult childhood growing up poor on a farm in New Jersey, has also been struggling with a number of medical conditions, suffering two strokes in the past two years.
His brother Thomas told the AP that Anthony wouldn’t have thought shaving on a train was strange – and he initially only asked for a sleeping bag so he could go to spend the night under a bridge.
“When he did what he did, that to him was normal,” Thomas Torres said. “He’s not that kind of person that does it because of spite or because he wants the attention.
“For so many years, he’s lived this way and I feel sorry for him. It’s hard to see the life that he’s lived.
“Maybe people will have more feeling knowing what this kid’s been through.”
And Anthony, who has worked in various jobs including construction and security, is rightly annoyed at people making fun of his difficult situation online. “I never thought it would go viral, people making fun of me,” he said.
What a lesson we have on our hands here, folks. We clearly learned nothing from ‘shower rat’ but eventually we’re going to have to realise that what we do and share online has real-world consequences, and that perhaps we should wait for context and understanding before criticising and laughing.
Shame on you, internet. Shame on us all.
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