I was watching my ‘49ers fumble away their playoff hopes when my nacho-soaked brain made a strange connection. It was the moment when, following the second of two glorious touchdown catches, tight end Vernon Davis jumped on a podium, posed for the adoration of his fans, and promptly earned his team a penalty.
This banal example of self-promotion reminded me of an AP article in Sunday’s Trib. It was a report on yet another disturbing trend: people posting videos of their criminal acts on social networks and sites such as Youtube.
I’ll admit the juxtaposition may be a stretch. After all, Vernon Davis’ self-aggrandizing action was not a criminal act (though Kyle Williams’ two fumbles approached that definition), and his post-TD jump onto a podium for some swagga-time was neither violent or destructive.
In contrast, the Chicago area beat down reported by the AP, which was filmed and then downloaded to Youtube by the perps, showed little more than a cold-blooded humanity and lack of regard for others.
But the two incidents do have a common thread, and it’s not hard to visualize. As humans we all share, to some extent, the need to promote our accomplishments. It could be argued that self-promotion is even hard-wired into our DNA. Self-restraint, by comparison, could be considered a more advanced societal value, a courtesy often lacking in the visceral world of sports. And violent crime.
I don’t normally mix psychoanalysis, crime and playoff football, but this is a timely topic.
Because I was slow to catch onto the phenomenon of social networking, I was unprepared for the sheer volume of information stored on the Web. That information has made the Internet the most massive forum for vain self-promotion ever to exist. It has also become the most valuable source for incriminating evidence since the discovery that, at least in regards to our fingerprints, we are all special.
As the AP article describes, criminals have a tendency to post their less than legal exploits on the Internet. The reasoning behind this self-destructive act is simple, if not logical. Many violent acts are done to further an agenda, whether for an individual criminal or for a group, such as a street gang. If the goal is to promote the individual or group’s prowess, then posting it onto Facebook or Youtube is the best means of stepping up to the podium for a little swagga-time. The potentially viral number of hits or “Likes” from these platforms make the temptation irresistible.
But payback is a female canine. Though there is always some shortage of equipment, cops do not lack for Internet connectivity. Thus, when criminals choose to unwittingly or recklessly roll the legal dice, the results are the same: ironclad evidence of a crime.
Perhaps it is all purely a matter of kharma. If so, then Vernon Davis has the entire off season to ponder the ‘49ers defeat and his own lack of sportsmanship. And certain street thugs in Chicago may wind up with even more time to consider their decision to take a violent act and double-down on stupidity.
Either way, balance has been restored.