Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Follow-up on "They Shoot Laptops, Don't They?"

In response to the furor his angry video caused on YouTube, and the thousands of comments it garnered as well as commentary in the blogosphere and broadcast media, Tommy Jordan, the angry father who shot his teen daughter's laptop, appeared this morning with his daughter and wife on The Today Show.  Matt Lauer asked the questions everyone wanted to hear asked.  I found it interesting to see this family together, to hear the father admit his mistake in the way he handled his daughter's Facebook post, but the daughter also admitted she'd made a mistake.

Credit: The Today Show
Mr. Jordan still stood by what he'd said and did in the video.  I stand by what I wrote in "They Shoot Laptops, Don't They?"  Given the information Mr. Jordan provided in his video, his demeanor and his actions, I guess I'd like to know how I could have come to any other conclusions.  I now see this as a beautiful example of unintended consequences, and how, once something is on the internet, it's nearly impossible to control its dissemination or interpretation.

Everyday, people post videos on YouTube and other people view them without knowing anything about the posters.  Strangers providing strangers with video content for their entertainment.  Sometimes posters have a specific constructive purpose in mind, e.g. teachers who post lessons.  Certainly YouTube can be educational.  It is a service that anyone can use.  But apparently Mr. Jordan forgot, in the heat of his anger, that it wasn't private.  He and his wife both commented that what happened with his video illustrated beautifully to their daughter what can happen and the reason they were so angry with her postings on Facebook to begin with. 

His daughter has lost her laptop, though.  The violence of that destruction was way out of proportion to his daughter's letter on Facebook.  Even his daughter called it an "overreaction."  Mr. Jordan did remove her hard drive before destroying the computer, which was thoughtful of him.  When she can have another laptop, all she needs to do is install the hard drive and she'll have all her data.  But I still question if it was really necessary to destroy the laptop, and especially in the way Mr. Jordan chose.  It sends a message of using violence to get his point across, which is not really a positive message.

I was glad to hear that they did talk about what happened when tempers had cooled.  The video experience may also teach them that a cool-down period may be wise before responding when you're angry.  Mr. Jordan may have chosen a different way to respond than the video if he had waited. 

Good job to The Today Show for following up with this family and giving them an opportunity to speak, to show the world what they're like and tell the whole story. 

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