Smile for the Riot Camera!

vancouver-riot-2011

George Orwell was right when he said Big Brother was watching us, but it doesn’t seem to be the government as much as ourselves. This past week, social media has proven that we must be careful in what we do and say. We can become the laughing stock of the world or capture its imagination.

With a camera being built in almost every gadget known to man these days, it is almost impossible to hide. Chances are whether you know it or not, your mug shot is in the background of dozens of photos taken by strangers using regular cameras, camera phones, traffic cameras, etc. The only sure way to avoid becoming part of a file on some guy’s computer is to be invisible.

Last week we all witnessed what happened in Vancouver following the Canucks loss to the Boston Bruins in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Riots quickly broke out downtown leaving more than 150 people injured, more than 50 businesses damaged, 15 cars destroyed and at least 14 officers with minor injuries.

Most people present during the unrest were not causing damage, but almost no one could resist the opportunity to pose proudly for a picture in front of a burning car. Whether or not they were responsible for torching the car, they might as well have been telling everyone (including police) “Hey guys, look what I did!”

For the miscreants that did take part in the destruction and looting, it won’t be long until the police come knocking on your door thanks to images and video clips uploaded to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, not to mentioned some idiotic ramblings on Facebook bragging about the crimes their authors have committed.

How stupid can you get

Vancouver Police requested that the public send or post pictures so that they can be used to prosecute the offenders, naturally they have received plenty. Vancouver 2011 Riot Criminal List alone has gathered tons of videos and photos depicting those who started fights, flipped cars, set fires and looted stores. In the future if you decide to loot, you might not want to be seen smiling with your face exposed and your arms full as you exit London Drugs.

Not only is social media working in favor of the police, but it also is helping to clean up the downtown core. The riot wasn’t even under control yet when Facebook events started to appear calling for everyone to go downtown Thursday morning to help clean up the mess.  “Post-Riot Clean-up: Let’s Help Vancouver” quickly drew over twelve thousand people and sure enough the masses have been pouring in to volunteer the last few days. All it takes is one man opening a page on Facebook for the rest of us to get inspired and do something.

Speaking of inspired, without all the little brothers out there with cameras last Wednesday night we might not have gotten to see the kiss. Alex Thomas and Scott Jones are now world famous for their viral photograph of them lying on the ground kissing while surrounded by riot police. The Australian Jones was apparently trying to calm down his Canadian girlfriend when the picture was taken. It is one of the best authentic images I’ve ever seen.

Heaven in Hell

Social Media outlets clearly played a key role in the Vancouver riots, much like the Iranian protests that followed the re-election  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009; social media played a key factor in its organization and its crackdown. At least in Vancouver’s case the only losers are actual losers.

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