Exposed: The Horrifying Cruelty of Social Media in Jay Slater’s Disappearance

Exposed: The Horrifying Cruelty of Social Media in Jay Slater’s Disappearance

**Exposed: The Horrifying Cruelty of Social Media in Jay Slater’s Disappearance**

The disappearance of Jay Slater, a 19-year-old British teenager who vanished during a holiday in Tenerife, has not only been a harrowing ordeal for his family but has also exposed the horrifying cruelty of social media. As the search for Jay extends into its second week, the online world has shown a disturbing lack of empathy, turning a tragic situation into a spectacle of mockery and vitriol.

Jay Slater went missing after attending the NRG music festival in Tenerife. His last known communication indicated he was lost in the mountains with a nearly dead phone battery and no water. Despite the gravity of the situation, social media has been flooded with flippant and cruel comments. One user mockingly suggested, “Has the search party looking for Jay Slater tried shouting ‘Autoglass repair’? If he’s in the vicinity he will shout back ‘Autoglass replace’.” Another quipped, “If #JaySlater has been on the gear then he’ll have a dose of the munchies. Has anyone thought about shouting ‘Domino hoh hoo’ into the valley?”

These comments are not just insensitive; they are a stark reminder of how social media can dehumanize real-life tragedies. The callousness reached a point where some users even compared Jay’s disappearance to the absence of footballers Harry Kane and Phil Foden, trivializing the situation further.

Jay’s mother, Debbie Duncan, has been subjected to relentless online abuse. Every word she utters, every expression she makes, is dissected and judged by strangers. One particularly cruel tweet read, “I’m sorry man but it’s so funny that Jay Slater’s mum flew over to Tenerife ‘to help search for him’ and then immediately after landing said yeah actually I’m not gonna help the search coz I don’t wanna be the one to find him. That, love, is a holiday.”

The family set up a GoFundMe page to cover the expenses of the search, which has raised over £32,000. Despite clarifications that no money has been withdrawn and that the family is covering the costs themselves, the online community has been quick to accuse them of opportunism. Debbie Duncan had to address these accusations directly, stating, “I really am saddened by all your comments. You seem to be so bothered about this GoFundMe page. I really hope I am not taking my son home in a body bag.”

The situation has become so dire that experts like Ginger Gorman, a global cyberhate expert, have weighed in. Gorman explains that “predator trolls” are sadists who enjoy inflicting harm and feel a perverse sense of power from it. These trolls see vulnerable individuals like Debbie Duncan as easy targets. “She’s heartbroken,” says Gorman. “So it’s actually devastatingly predictable that this is the mechanism by which she would be targeted by predator trolls. Trolls often use people’s children as their vulnerability.”

Christine Pratt, founder of The National Bullying Helpline, notes that trolling and online bullying are on the rise. She advocates for legal actions against trolls, stating, “In the UK we need to start seeing prosecutions – the police need to take action against trolls. We can’t put them all in prison or take all of them to court, but in the very worst cases, trolls being prosecuted or sued would act as a deterrent.”

The phenomenon of social media sleuthing has also played a role in this tragedy. Inspired by true crime podcasts and online communities, many people have taken it upon themselves to play armchair detective. Dr. Sara Polak, an academic and co-author of “Violence and Trolling on Social Media: History, Affect, and Effects of Online Vitriol,” explains that people might start out feeling genuinely concerned but it quickly becomes a game for them. “Social media and the internet provide the opportunity to research online, look for clues, say your bit and share your theories; it’s a game for entertainment.”

This behavior leads to “apophenia,” a term from game design that refers to seeing patterns where none exist. Dr. Polak notes that once people draw a conclusion, they filter out facts that don’t fit their narrative. “They find a trail that leads them somewhere, and really feel like they’re onto something, because it resonates with familiar cultural tropes – for example, in the case of Jay Slater, that 19-year-old boys aren’t to be trusted.”

Dr. Daniel Trottier, co-author with Dr. Polak, adds that the internet has become a window to the world, especially during lockdowns. This has led to a growing skepticism of mainstream media and a rise in conspiracy theories. “Do your research,” has become a common refrain, allowing people to feel they are doing something meaningful, even if it means questioning the motivations of a grieving family.

As the search for Jay Slater continues, his father, Warren Slater, described the ordeal as “a living hell.” Local police have stated that “nothing is ruled out” in the ongoing search. New footage has emerged showing Jay dancing in a nightclub hours before he went missing, adding another layer of complexity to the case.

In the face of such cruelty, experts like Ginger Gorman advocate for a legislated duty of care, making social media platforms responsible for user safety. The National Bullying Helpline suggests eradicating online anonymity with an ID system.

As we navigate this digital age, it’s crucial to remember that behind every screen is a real person with real emotions. Jay’s parents deserve love and support, not ridicule and suspicion. Before sharing an opinion online, consider the impact of your words. Imagine if it were your child missing. As a society, we must strive to be more compassionate and supportive, especially in times of crisis.

Source: The Independent, PA Media

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top