Seize the moment: Social Media and the burning of Rome.

Did you know that the Romans of Nero’s time actually developed the concept of social media and the internet?

In 72 A.D. the Flavian Amphitheatre, most commonly known as the Roman Colosseum was built.  55,000 Romans would fill this magnificent facility to view and participate in grand dramatic plays and bloody examples of mankind’s desire to see others hurt.  Cheering as Gladiator slaves fought to the death and Christians were slaughtered in countless ways.  This was all great entertainment.  At the conclusion of many Gladiator fights, the Emperor would seek the approval of the crowds in showing either mercy or death to those on the stage.  Interactive entertainment where you can watch and participate.   I imagine that little mercy was ever shown.  Why?  Well, you take the wife and kids down to the Colosseum for a night of entertainment and its just not complete unless you can finish on a high note of watching and participating in the destruction of another person.

Run the clock forward to today.  The internet and social media sites have become the new Roman Colosseum and we are the Romans.  Rarely does a month pass that we don’t hear of and see examples of  the online destruction of someone’s character and even their lives.  We have a bloodlust desire to expose and destroy others for our entertainment.  It doesn’t matter whether they are famous, wealthy, poor, defenseless or just another person at work or school.  Its just in good fun! Right?  Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers student, was the last victim of this bloodlust.  This is not a story about Tyler’s lifestyle.  Its about taking anyone’s private life and exposing it to the world.  Unfortunately, the new colosseum holds many more than 55,000 viewers and participants who crave these opportunities.

Now, the Roman Colosseum and Social Media Sites did and do provide a great platform for education, enrichment and communication.  Roman culture thrived on the great re-enactments of historical battles, music, theatre and debate; all of which occurred in the great Colosseum.  The internet and its related social media sites provide even more of the same.  However, instruments of good have an equal, if not, greater capability of perpetuating the bloodlust desire which resides within mankind.

Is our culture today on the same decline as that of the great Roman empire?  Are we driven to an insatiable desire to see, experience and maybe even cause harm to someone else as viewers and participants on the internet?  Is it time for us to wake up as a culture and see where we are heading?  Oh, what is that?  Do I hear Nero on the steps of the Colosseum playing his harp as Rome burns around him?

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