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Social Media - And People - Gone Bad: The Case Of Steve Stephens

Updated on April 19, 2017

It's So Horrifically Wrong

I didn't bother looking at Facebook to see if I could see him; the rumors of what he'd done was enough to turn my stomach.

I often joke with my students that the power of social media should be used for good, not evil, and they know that I'm talking about using time judiciously while online and also, not plagiarizing. I'm an English and French teacher; plagiarism can be a bit of an issue in both those subjects, though I know any subject can get hit with students who try to get by through plagiarism.

When I heard about the Robert Godwin murder and Steve Stephens, and realized that Stephens had actually somehow posted video of his having viciously gunned down the senior on Facebook, I was stunned. I'm pretty sure that most everyone who has heard of the case - and that's a lot of people - were feeling pretty much the same way. I've heard of people taking pictures of their crimes as a means of having something of a trophy, or of being able to recall what's happened, but this shocked me to the point of having no words.

I know I use Facebook to post various cool videos of my kids or, yes, of small animals doing incredibly cute things. It speaks volumes when someone decides to capture a moment like the one Stephens did; what frightens me is this man was apparently a behavioral therapist, and a youth mentor.

How do you explain that to the kids who were under his care?

"Sorry, guys. Stevie Steve (the name by which he was sometimes called) won't be coming back since he's the target of a massive police manhunt. Your file will be transferred to someone who's in house and mentally stable."

How does someone like that slip through the radar?

Granted, there are all kinds of unstable people in this world, working in positions of authority that many of us would shudder to think about.

Stephens reportedly said that his recent breakup with Joy Lane, who was taken into police custody following news of Stephens going on the run, and massive gambling debts were responsible for him "snapping."

If you are aware enough that you've "snapped," there are so many, many things you can do to heal yourself and protect others from any danger you might cause. While I know having yourself admitted to hospital might not be the most appealing choice in this case - for the sake of yourself and for others, DO IT.

Stephens was aware enough of his fragile mental state that he'd admitted to snapping. That should tell people that he was more than aware of right and wrong.

He blamed his ex-girlfriend in the video for what he was about to do, according to reports. He said he'd killed another 15 people, and there was a 4-state manhunt on for the man before he was found in Ohio, having become his own next victim.

He knew he wouldn't make it out of the situation he put himself in alive, again proving that he was very much aware of the wrong he was about to do.

Why, then, did he choose this path, and then post it?

Robert Godwin Sr - Loving Family Man


Forgiveness Not Impossible

In spite of the horrific way in which things played out, Godwin's family said they forgive Stephens for what happened. Sure, Godwin's daughter reportedly said she would have preferred Stephens go down in a hail of gunfire rather than dying by his own hand, but in all, the family has expressed forgiveness for the killer.

I don't know if I would be quite so charitable, given how very publicly this has played out. Video of Godwin's slaying is still making the rounds online, and while I will not post it on this blog, it's still incredibly disturbing that Facebook - or any social media platform, for that matter, would be used in this way.

Yes, we have a tendency to air our dirty laundry publicly - again, thanks to a range of social media platforms, including Facebook - but Stephens' case is truly disturbing and perhaps speaks volumes about the very public cry for help that Stephens seemed to have been making. He knew very well what he was doing. Someone who makes the comments that he apparently did prior to murdering someone - and knows enough to record such a monstrous act - knows how far gone they truly are. If, as reports indicate, Stephens was a behavioral therapist, he would have known very well the resources at his disposal. He could have taken himself to a hospital and admitted the thoughts he'd been having long before the tragedy.

But he didn't, and the trail of shattered lives he's left behind will likely never be fully whole.

I wouldn't know how to forgive that.


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