"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Review and quotes: ACCOUNTABLE

Title: Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose lives It Changed by Dashka Slater

Opening lines quote: 
[Prologue] Looking back, it's hard not to wonder how the whole thing could have been prevented. All the sorrow, all the fear, all the rage. All the lives derailed, all the milestones missed, all the plans upended. The hearings. The lawsuits. The brokenness that settled over everyone involved. The undefinable and uncountable losses: the friendships wrecked, the optimism withered, the joy stolen. Somebody could have spoken up before it went that far, before the entire town was shattered. But who?
Friday56 quote: 
{October 2016} It had started back in the fall, in Algebra 2. She was deep in her own thoughts when she felt a hand in her hair.
When a high school student started a private Instagram account that used racist and sexist memes to make his friends laugh, he thought of it as “edgy” humor. Over time, the edge got sharper. Then a few other kids found out about the account, and pretty soon, everyone knew. Ultimately no one in the small town of Albany, California, was safe from the repercussions of the account’s discovery: not the girls targeted by the posts. Not the boy who created the account. Not the group of kids who followed it. Not the adults―educators and parents―whose attempts to fix things too often made them worse. In the end, no one was laughing, and everyone was left wondering: What does it mean to be held accountable for harm that takes place behind a screen? (Publisher.)
Review: I can't even begin to describe how impactful this book, Accountable, is. Dashka Slater did a masterful job of getting behind every story through interviews, looking at social media, surveillance videos, public records, and other sources and staying with the story for years. She skillfully shows us the complexity of issues that teenagers confront every single time they interact with social media. She questions who is responsible and looks at how racism and racist memes are created and accepted as something funny because the creator didn't "mean it." 

I was really blown away by the accounts of this actual event. No one won. Everyone lost. Albany stands in for the whole country, the world. We unleash this social media and then let our children play with it. What started as a joke between friends tumbled into a racist fiasco, one that no one could put back into the box. The adults in this account are so ignorant, too. They all seem impotent to do anything to quell the situation. 

The book is long, 480 pages, but the way the book is organized makes it seem much shorter. There is a lot of white space on each page. It took me less than a few days to read it. I actually had to set it down several times just to give my brain time to process what I was reading. If the length of the book sounds like more than you are willing to tackle, please consider checking the book out from your library and reading the few pages from the chapter titled "Shame." (pgs 248-252.)

The whole school community and many in the city of Albany got involved or caught up in publicly shaming the boys who created and were participants in the racist account. But as I read the account of what the shamers did I realized they were at fault, too. The point of shaming someone is to make them feel bad. "But legal scholars have argued that public shaming is inherently bad for society because it normalizes cruelty and degrades human dignity" (249). What the boys did was wrong. What the shamers were doing was wrong, too. Two wrongs do not make a right and as we see as this account moves through the story, there is nothing that could be said to make situation better.

It feels like this story has a lot of implications for those of us trying to maneuver through life today. No one knows how to treat other people with respect anymore since it is so easy to anonymously awful to others on-line. Fortunately, the books ends with some positive notes and some signs of growth and self-acceptance.

I highly recommend this YA nonfiction book which I read for the Nonfiction November challenge.

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As many of you know Freda over at Freda's Voice hosted #Friday56 for many years. On September 7th she told us she was going through some personal stuff and could no longer host. I've attempted to reach her but have had no reply. So I will host The Friday56 until she comes back. So that all past participants figure out where and how to find me, please post the URL to Inlinkz below and this post on your blog. Thanks.

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