The Trayvon Martin Case: Why Your Opinion Matters

George Zimmer Found Not Guilty

On February 26th, 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman.

Over a year later on July 13th, 2013, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder, and was also acquitted of manslaughter in the Trayvon Martin case.

The trial was broadcast live on most television news stations. However, the trial was also the number one topic of conversation on social media on Saturday night, the night the verdict was reached. Millions of users posted on social media about “Zimmerman” and “Trayvon Martin,”  two key phrases that are still trending on Twitter almost a week later. These people chose to share their opinions about the verdict by sharing it via Twitter and Facebook to all of their followers, and considering how controversial the case was, these opinions were deeply felt and strongly voiced. Countless people disagreed with the verdict and commented on the flaws of the state of Florida’s legal system, while numerous others felt the jury produced the correct verdict and that Florida’s laws functioned exactly the way they were designed.

Despite my personal opinion, I found myself being influenced by the hundreds of social media users whose thoughts and beliefs I was reading. After scrolling through a ton of angry, confused, relieved, disappointed, and/or joyful posts, I caught myself regurgitating other people’s opinions while discussing the case with my friends and family. I was making arguments and forming opinions based on the feelings and emotions that other people had shared via social media.

Once I became aware of this, I realized that it must have been happening to a lot of other people too. It’s obviously important to get information from multiple sources to establish a broad and unbiased perspective. The introduction of Twitter has drastically accelerated the rate at which people receive and absorb breaking news. However, Twitter acts as a double-edged sword in this case because anyone can Tweet about anything at any time. There’s no validation process. So while people may be getting information much more expeditiously, the truth and accuracy of this information may be diminished.

I think it’s important to be able to voice your opinion, and I think Twitter is great because it enables and facilitates these conversations. However, I strongly urge Twitter users to read carefully, share their thoughts even more carefully, and THINK before posting. There’s a lot of information out there, and in today’s age it is our responsibility to determine what information is valid and what is not. Your opinion matters because though you might not realize it, your opinion may be influencing and shaping the opinions of others.

How does social media affect your understanding and opinion of breaking news and current events?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

4 replies
  1. Suzanne R
    Suzanne R says:

    I truly believe individuals (especially individuals our age) do not research controversial topics that are popular in the media. Even if they do research certain topics, they read articles or listen to television broadcasts that fit their political views instead of getting information from well rounded sources. Why not get information from both a “liberal”, “conservative”, and “neutral” party source? By doing this you’ll be able to formulate your own opinion because you are fully educated from a wide variety of sides. I’d say the minimum of people born in the late eighties to early nineties are actually doing their research on hot topics in the news. Instead, they are scrolling their Facebook or twitter feeds and formulating their opinions based on their friends’ status updates. This is the recipe for creating a nation that cannot think for themselves and are quite frankly, too lazy to formulate a genuine opinion. With all the resources and means that are available to us today, it would be ridiculous for us to have a strong viewpoint based on 140 characters.

    Reply
    • Brian Funicelli
      Brian Funicelli says:

      I agree! In a time where information can be retrieved instantaneously, I think most people are going to do what’s easiest and most convenient. And what’s more convenient than simply scrolling through your Twitter feed? It takes much more time and effort to actively seek out alternative sources of information and confirm the validity of that information. We need to take it upon ourselves to make that extra effort to get the facts and check their accuracy before forming and sharing our opinion. Thanks for the response, Suzanne!

      Reply
  2. Sheela Kian
    Sheela Kian says:

    First of all, there are racist bastards saying that Zimmerman was the victim and that Trayvon Martin was attacking him relentlessly. Need I say that first off, their body frames are completely different. By height and weight, (and shared sayings from Martin’s parents), Trayvon could have never managed to attack Zimmerman to a point where a gun was needed to be brought out.

    This is how it went down: A just-turned 17-year-old teen went to 7/11 to get some Skittles and Arizona Tea. He comes out of the store talking to his girlfriend. On the way home, he notices a man in a vehicle watching him. Now, if you were a teenager, wouldn’t you be the slightest frightened or cautious now that someone’s stalking you? Yes, you’d be fucking stupid not to. So Trayvon starts running out of fear and this racist idiot of an asshole Zimmerman reports to the police in details that make Trayvon Martin look like a criminal. Next, Zimmerman is asked by the police if he was following Trayvon and he replies “yes.” The police specifically told him not to follow Trayvon, but that bastard did anyway. Don’t you people realize that if Zimmerman had listened to the police that nobody would have gotten hurt, that teenage boy who had a full life ahead of him would still be alive, and this whole issue would never had be brought up? Where the fuck is your sanity people? Trayvon Martin was not a criminal. He had no means of weapons AT ALL v.s. Zimmerman who had a gun on himself, which he was NOT supposed to have on him.

    Zimmerman was a racist bastard who judged a poor teenage boy based on appearance. Just because Trayvon was wearing a hoodie, (and it was fucking raining by the way), and JUST because he was African American does NOT make him a criminal!!!

    Zimmerman deserves to have his life taken away, if not have a full life in prison. How the FUCK can you murder someone, especially someone that young who had parents, and a brother, and a girlfriend, and a whole fucking life set up for him, and not fet fucking punished?

    REST IN PEACE ANGEL TRAYVON MARTIN! MY HEART AND PRAYERS GO OUT TO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS. WE ARE ALL HERE FOR YOUR JUSTICE, BECAUSE THAT IS THE LEAST YOU DESERVE. WE LOVE YOU, BROTHER. YOU CAN WALK WITH GOD NOW. <''3333

    Reply
  3. Cecile
    Cecile says:

    Based on the the tape, there must be one man attacking another, that’s why one of them cried” Help”. If Martin was attacked by Zimmerman, why aren’t there any bruises on his body, but the shooting hole? Martin is tall and lean, and he is aggressive in personality (fighting, drug). He is not an angel. When he is fearful, he assaults the one who is following him. I believe Zimmerman’s case is just a self-defense case. Zimmerman is fat (and thus weaker than Martin), and shorter. Those kind of men did not dare physically attacking others (males) who are taller and stronger.. On the other hand, Martin is typically African kid who is prone to violence. Remember 3 African kids ( 14, 15, 16 years old)to assaulted a Caucasion kid (13 years old), trampling and broken his hands recently? Reason: this white kid reported their bad behavior (drug usage) to the school, That’s why they have beaten him up. That’s the way many bad African kids go: resorting to violence, attacking those who are recognized as a “threat” to them. I do not like to see Martin die, but frankly, African familes should educate their children better, not condoning the violence in their community. We are a lawful country, you cannot claim the right of attacking people, using the muscle to solve the matter. Are you fearful because you feel you are followed by some one? Call 911, run away ! One sad thing is media intervened so much into this criminal case, and made it a racial case. I believe that there are forces behind who used media for their own political motives. Media is not the voice of public commonsense and intellectual judgement. In stead, it manipulates and directs the public. I do not wish that because of a certain Martin, you will change the legal system, because the law does not serve only the black community but all Americans, despite their colors and races!

    Reply

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