THE internet was in an uproar over the weekend when Chris Evans, best known for his role as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mistakenly uploaded a screenshot of his camera roll to his Instagram stories. Let’s just say that one of the photos is NSFW (not safe for work) and caused Mr. Evans (and anyone, had they been in the same position) much embarrassment. The story was deleted, except that nothing every really dies on the internet once it is let loose in cyberspace.
Then something unexpected happened: fans started flooding the lines with photos of Evans and his dog, Dodger, in an effort to bury any posts containing the NSFW photo. Other fans started reporting accounts who began posting and spreading the said photo, citing an invasion of Evans’ privacy. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Evans is known to be a really nice person, not much different from his famous on-screen persona. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he puts his heart and soul into his charity work, putting smiles on sick children’s faces whenever they get a visit from their favorite Avenger.
‘The next time something like this happens—it could happen to a friend, a family member, a school mate, a casual acquaintance or a complete stranger—let’s all remember how the internet saved Captain America, and how we can all contribute to saving others from the same trauma, even if their name is not Chris Evans.’
It could also have something to do with Evans’ awareness of social issues, and his ability to use his celebrity to speak on pressing issues. He doesn’t end with speaking, though. He founded the civic engagement platform called A Starting Point or ASP with Mark Kassen and technology entrepreneur Joe Kiani, which presents views and opinions on pressing political and legislative issues from both sides of the fence. The goal? Create a more informed electorate by giving the public access to bipartisan information that will help them arrive at their own conclusions.
Yes, it was an amazing moment in internet behavior, primarily because we have seen how deeply traumatizing it can be to have one’s privacy invaded and broadcast on all corners of the world wide web. And again, I have no doubt that the fact that Evans is well-loved by fans of all ages contributed to how this played out. However, I cannot help but see the imbalance in this situation, through no fault of Mr. Evans: ordinary folks certainly would not expect to have this particular outcome in their lives if the same thing happened to them.
I remember advising a friend of a friend, who was fresh out of college. She found out that someone had stolen her beach photos from her Facebook profile, which unfortunately, was publicly available. Concerned friends reported that they saw her photo being used in ads for porn sites, and eventually, she saw that her photo was posted as a come-on within the site itself.
She was mortified, of course. I advised her to engage the services of a lawyer who could assist her in filing a complaint with the National Bureau of Investigation to help track down the administrator of the website. She had already tried to get the assistance of the NBI by herself, but was admonished by the person she had spoken to that she shouldn’t have posted photos of herself in a bathing suit. So, to add to her embarrassment, that person in authority who was supposed to assist her essentially concluded that she was partly to blame for the entire affair. It makes one’s blood boil, really.
My reason for sharing this story is plain: people’s privacy are invaded, wittingly or unwittingly, on a daily basis. Let us help these people the same way the internet helped out Chris Evans: don’t share or post photos that may compromise others online. Resist the urge to share or post, and call out others who may have done it without realizing the harm.
We can avoid contributing to the trauma just by refusing to spread it further. Yes, hitting the share or like button has power—influencers ask you to do this every day to contribute to their reach and engagement. But oftentimes, refusing to click share or like has a different power of its own—compassion.
The next time something like this happens—it could happen to a friend, a family member, a school mate, a casual acquaintance or a complete stranger—let’s all remember how the internet saved Captain America, and how we can all contribute to saving others from the same trauma, even if their name is not Chris Evans.