The Facebook murder is an example of social media narcissism

 

aveciana@MiamiHerald.com

There’s a bit of the showoff in all creatures, and some would say that this need to brag and gloat, to stand out in the crowd is the result of centuries of evolution. Think of the peacock. Or the red cardinal. Or the athlete hot-dogging it on the court.

Then there’s the aberrant braggart whose boasts are, quite simply, heinous and cringe-inducing.

Yes, I’m writing about the young Miami man who will forever be known as the Facebook murderer. Derek Medina, according to police, shot his wife, 26-year-old Jennifer Alfonso, posted a photo of her dead body on Facebook and confessed to the murder in one of the strangest FB posts I’ve ever read:

“Im going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys takecare Facebook people you will see me in the news my wife was punching me and I am not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did I hope u understand me.”

Labeling this a confession, though, is being overly generous. Confessions can be a rambling note, a whispered declaration, a tearful breakdown. But posting the photo of a bloody corpse? That’s a desperate and sick need for attention.

Medina’s post stayed on the website for several hours. And as Facebook friends are wont to do, they commented on the photo.

“That is my friend there.”

“What happened???? derek.”

“WHAT??????”

These friends may have been disgusted or alarmed or disbelieving, but that didn’t stop them or others from sharing the gruesome image over and over — until Facebook finally disabled Medina’s page, as well as his wife’s.

Posting a photo of a corpse may be a first for Facebook, but the public display of criminal narcissism is far from that. Social media is becoming the platform of choice for those wanting international fame quickly and easily. No more need to leave cryptic notes for the police or mail a letter to the hometown newspaper as David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz did when he penned an incoherent missive to The New York Daily News.

Infamy is now merely a few clicks away. You don’t have to worry about a stamp or, apparently, proper punctuation when you’re tapping away on Facebook. That was true for a middle-aged Indiana man who committed suicide after murdering his ex girlfriend and her friend in December 2011 and for a Vietnamese man who killed his girlfriend after she threatened to break up with him. One anonymous poster on Reddit also detailed how he killed his sister’s abusive meth-addict boyfriend with his own drugs.

The accessibility of social media creates a perfect platform for bullies, who have gained a larger stage to strut their stuff. Remember the case of Audrie Pott, the 15-year-old California girl who committed suicide after three boys sexually assaulted her and circulated photos of the abuse online?

Social media and Facebook in particular, because of its broad reach, have become the tech age town square, the office water cooler, the Tuesday night fellowship hour. It has allowed us to stay connected to people near and far. I, for one, enjoy the timely updates from friends and relatives.

But social media has a dark side, too. It amplifies and intensifies our message and provides free publicity and a degree of anonymity to all, including the cowards and crazies who are all too eager to take advantage of this to display appalling, if not necessarily murderous, behavior.

Consider this: Miami Herald writer Katia Savchuk reported that at least three fake Facebook profiles for Medina were created after the murder. They received hundreds of likes. One of them even had this tagline: “I killed my wife, big deal.”

Need I say more?

Follow Ana on Twitter @AnaVeciana.

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