Robinson Cano, Twitter, and Dehumanization

Posted on May 20, 2014 | 8 comments

BrianMillerArt.com

BrianMillerArt.com

Jimmy Fallon had a funny bit on his show a couple of weeks ago. In it, a former New York Yankees baseball player – Robinson Cano – was back in the Big Apple playing with his new team. So Jimmy had a large picture of Cano in his new uniform and invited New Yorkers to boo and yell what they wanted to at the picture.

After they were done, while they were talking with an interviewer, Robinson Cano would walk out from behind the picture. The reactions of the former hecklers was priceless.

Here is the video for you to watch.

What I found most interesting about the video was how it illustrates our tendency to dehumanize people. Whether it is an athlete, entertainment personality, homeless person, or a victim of a disaster far away, our tendency is to categorize people and respond to the role or category rather than their humanity.

For the people in the video, that became hard to do when the actual person, complete with feelings and responses, was standing in front of them rather than a picture.

This attitude toward people is epidemic on Twitter. Where anonymity and 140 character create a false sense of bravado in people and the words they use. Ever check out the replies to a female celebrity picture? It is quite and education to see what people can spout off, everything from what they want to do to them in bed, harsh denouncements of what the person originally said, to judgments about appearance and their last performance.

Quite the opposite of what you’d expect, social media dehumanizes people to each other.

Rather than a person, you are a category or statistic.

Rather than human, you are an object I can tear down for my benefit.

Rather than a relationship, you are something to which I can compare my self. Boosting my identity if I feel superior, and becoming the object of blame and attack if I do not.

Followers of Christ do this as well. How often do we dehumanize and categorize people by their sin and shortcomings? Forgetting from where we came, we pull out a standard response, judgment or prescriptions for proper behavior. (BTW, the comment thread on someone’s tweet is not a place for effective evangelism.)

Jesus calls his followers to compassion, the opposite of dehumanization. We are all alike in our humanity.

Compassion is an expression of the dignity all people have as image bearers of the Creator. (click to tweet)

Compassion is the acceptance that we are all alike in the brokenness of that image.

Compassion is an understanding that another person does not exist to sustain your identity. (tweet that too)

Compassion is the remembrance that we in Christ were once outside of Christ too.

How do you tend to categorize people? How does that affect your response to them?

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8 Comments

  1. That video was way funnier than I expected it to be. Priceless! And very revealing about the human heart.

  2. Thanks for sharing – it’s an interesting thought to ponder: Do I dehumanize an individual I’ve never met? (except for reading about them on social media) And you’re so correct, as followers of Christ we are to first model His behavior of compassion.

    My husband and I spend much of our time writing and participating in online activities, so this is an important question. Can I see and interact with each virtual individual as a unique, God-created person? I believe it’s all in our strategy of how to get to know these people we’ve never met in person. I know that both Robert and I will read the “about” section of a website before responding. (I read your about first – 🙂 so I know that you’re a follower of Christ, married and have a daughter.)

    Maybe it’s that statement, “Seek first to understand.” which will make all the difference when connecting with other people – both online and in person… Christ had an advantage being the Son of God. But we have the model in Christ, so we’re ahead of the game!

  3. Thanks for a humorous reminder to mentally “look someone in the eye” before hitting the Post button. Grace and more grace.

  4. Thank you for a great thoughtful post and for sharing on Show Off Friday. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and really agree that we all need to see each other’s humanity more fully.

  5. Funny yet convicting post, Scott (that is a very unique balance to hit, btw!) I would love to say I never dehumanize people, but that would be a lie, and last I checked, lying was a sin.

    I struggle in the area of comparison, specifically when it comes to physical fitness (I have always struggled with getting healthy so I use the comparison game to look at people as objects instead of with compassion.) God is working on my heart in this area and I love to watch the transformation.

    Thanks for sharing this powerful truth over at #EverydayJesus. Blessings.

  6. Ya, it is really a humorous video that you share with Four Seasons Blog Hop. It is indeed a must to be more gracious in this society… Have a nice day and cheers.

  7. You have a very good point! If I dont meet someone in person, I do have a tendency to figure out what they are really like. Thanks for stopping by Weekends Are Fun.
    Have a great day!

  8. Such a great post and a reminder not to be keyboard heroes.. rather, think about our fellow brothers and sisters before making harsh remarks.

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