As I was working the mall today, I noticed a very disturbing incident. A young girl was being pushed against the wall. Her Pandora bag fell out of her hand, and the box containing her purchase fell out of it. For a moment I thought a group of guys were going to harm her, so my immediate reaction was to step in to stop it, in spite of knowing I could get hurt in the process. Yet, I steadily crept up to the situation to find who I assumed to be a mall detective trying to cuff her. So I knew she must have shoplifted or something. She was hysterical, proclaiming her innocence, as all usually do, while her friend was trying to calm her down and telling her that she might not be going to jail. The detective eventually brought her into Helzberg, but I decided to stay, hoping I could contribute into calming her down by speaking soothing words. I don’t know if she had actually shoplifted or if there was simply suspicion that she had, but if it was just suspicion, he likely wanted to handcuff her because of how she was reacting.
In any case, a lot of us were trying to calm her down, because she wasn’t making things any better. I was trying to tell her it was going to be okay…because it will be okay, eventually, even though it won’t be in that moment. A lot of people began to come upon the scene, because, well, that’s human nature. We’re naturally curious by things we don’t often see. However, when I turned around, I saw a man videoing the incident, and I grew angry. I didn’t realize I had it in me, but I began yelling at him to stop videoing the incident, because what was happening was for no one’s entertainment. Of course he pulled out the trite argument that it was his right, and I told him it was, but the incident was for no one’s entertainment. Then a woman had the audacity to tell me that maybe she won’t shoplift ever again because of the video.
Can anyone tell me what is wrong with this statement? Who should you be angrier with? The impulsive young girl or the older man?
I can tell you. 30 years ago shoplifters didn’t need to be humiliated by having themselves strewn across the internet. 30 years ago they learned their lessons to not shoplift ever again without having to be humiliated by millions of people. 30 years ago they didn’t need to be subjected to cruel, nasty comments about their misdemeanors.
I am a very non-judgmental person. I don’t know if she shoplifted. If she did, it was very foolish and impulsive of her. People need to think before they commit such actions. This is why our Creator gave us the ability to reason. At the same time, videoing this girl’s behavior is pure barbarism and cruelty. This video won’t teach her a lesson. In fact, this is what I wanted to tell the woman who told me it would: “Or maybe she’ll kill herself, because people say the cruelest, nastiest things in the comments of videos such as these. People have killed themselves from being humiliated on the internet.”
Her crime was shoplifting. She was fighting against the detective, but she wasn’t trying to hurt him or anyone else. She just wanted him to let her go. If she shoplifted, being arrested is punishment enough. But to put her on the internet, just for others’ entertainment? That makes me mad, sad, and hurt for this young girl. Her alleged crime has no reason to make me angry. Yet, her being recorded does.
If she did shoplift, I don’t know why she did it. The obvious answer is impulsiveness, but all shoplifters have their unique reasons. We all have it in us to be just as impulsive as her, so why should we think ourselves above this young girl? Why should we think we’re better than her? We shouldn’t, and that is what that woman was doing when she made that comment.
It is not okay to do this to other people who aren’t physically harming anyone, threatening anyone, or verbally abusing anyone. This young girl simply kept repeating that she wanted to be let go of. She wasn’t even calling anyone any names. She was crying, upset, and scared. And all of this is going to be seen by thousands of people who WILL leave terrible comments. They’ll laugh, and because she’s a young girl, they’ll call her sexist words. In fact, I have no doubt I’m going to be in the video, but I don’t care. If I can be a distraction from her for even a few seconds, then so be it. In fact, nothing of this nature needs to be put on the internet. Fights don’t need to be put on the internet. Pranks don’t need to be put on the internet. Cruelty, period, doesn’t need to be put on the internet. All people do is upload it for the entertainment of others, just to amuse others–and that is sickening. Now whether or not I was being foolish for chastising this man remains to be seen, but one thing I learned is that I have it in me to stand up for others who I don’t even know anything about. Her shoplifting doesn’t tell me much about her. It simply tells me she’s impulsive. But that man videoing her? That tells me A LOT about him.
I can only pray this young girl will learn her lesson and become stronger for it, if she indeed did shoplift. I can also pray that she will still be able to find a job through someone’s compassion and forgiveness. I pray she never does it again, and I pray this video will not psychologically damage her to such an extent that she will be a danger to herself or even others.
I shared this to make people realize that we are all connected with one another. You are never harming just one person. Never.