Recently, a Vine showing a clerk following an African-American customer around a convenience store went viral. After inquiring if the young man had identified the store and suggesting that because he didn't, the video may have been a setup, I was able to determine the store chain and location from a now-deleted tweet.
After waiting a day to see if anyone else would follow-up, I emailed Holiday Stationstores and asked if they had any comment about the Vine which had reportedly been filmed in Store #429. Though it has now been a couple of days since my email, they've yet to respond. Of course, I didn't really expect them to reply. After all, sites like Buzzfeed, Britain's Independent and HuffingtonPost Brazil had not identified the location and after the video had been seen by millions all over the world with no repercussions for the company, they would have no reason to respond to an unknown participant in a comparatively low-traffic group blog. Why should they out themselves, if so many major blogs had given them a pass?
I thought about forwarding the information to one of the news channels in that market or to the local paper, but though arguments could be made that the internet is forever and the story should be fair game, it just seemed a little too close to home. If Gawker or one of the other national blogs wanted to use their power to get a statement — I do think one is warranted — it would be one thing, but the young Vine artist has to live in that town and he chose not to contact the local "I-Team", plus he deleted the tweet, so I should leave well-enough alone.
Of course I don't understand that decision, but it's his product and his choice.
If he doesn't feel the store should be publicly shamed and that perhaps they should change their training procedures so things will happen differently in the future — if he thinks it is enough that people just see something which we all know exists — it is his right. I, on the other hand, have always felt that you should right wrongs and point toward those doing injustice, where they might not happen again, but apparently he defines "speak up" differently.
I've yet to decide whether it is generational or a byproduct of social media. In the above video, Rashid Polo says that his mother wanted to take him to the store and read them the riot act. If it were me or if he was someone I knew, I'd want to do the same — hell, I wanted to do it as a random blogger — but lately we've been presented with all kinds of stories which are just supposed to outrage us without giving us an outlet for our anger. I can't find it now, but I believe that I commented on one of those "waitress gets offensive note" stories that I didn't know what I was supposed to do with the information. If the business had wronged a customer, I could boycott and write letters of protest, but if an unknown person traveling I-24 through Nashville says something offensive, there's not a lot that I can do. Without the name of the store this weekend's Vine was from the same boat. We could just tsk-tsk and think that's a shame, then everybody just go back to what they were doing before, including the clerk.