Anyone with a Twitter or Instagram account has seen, read, or heard about the standoff between a Native American man and a teenager. Based on that description alone, the matter seems trivial, but it’s the context of this standoff that makes it national news.
The incident happened at the recent Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C. The original circulating video showed Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American man, chanting and playing a drum in front of a group of teenage boys who were wearing President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats. The original one minute video that circulated on the internet failed to reveal the whole story. Reports say that Phillips stepped in to diffuse a situation between the teens and a group called the Black Hebrew Israelites. It is reported that this group began taunting and shouting at the students who retaliated and continued even after Phillips stepped in.
Though this larger and more complex story is less known in the Twitter-verse, there are different perspectives that Twitter has spun out. Several Twitter users pointed out the fact that the teenager’s parents hired a PR firm in order to put him in a positive light. Others also pointed out that the pro-veteran community, which constantly calls for civilians to respect veterans, has remained silent in the matter.
On top of that, the existence of social media in this situation has created some problems. The lines of who was in the wrong and who was provoked who have become fuzzy in the presence of constantly changing information. The main issue with the entire controversy is that different videos that circulated online are presenting different narratives. Instances like this have happened and will keep happening if the general public chooses to not dig beyond their feeds.