Videos that pack a punch

Student fights posted on social media receive mixed reactions.


Open-use vector image of the Instagram logo.

By Victoria Sundin, Robert E. Lee High School

For better or worse, fights at school will catch anyone’s attention. In the heat of battle, some run away, some call a person of authority, and some even try to break it up. Some encircle the action with their cellphones, recording it to show their friends — or the world.

The shrine to Robert E. Lee High School fights can be found on Instagram. The page called @relfights has more than 1,400 followers and consists of videos of, and comments on, students fighting. To follow the account, one must promote it on their own account and use the hashtag #relfights. The account does not name those who are in the fight, but anyone who follows the account may comment and say whatever they want.

“I guess people who follow the account watch the videos to entertain themselves,” senior Carlos Salazar said. “They think that it’s like watching a street performance.”

Unlike a street performance, however, watching fights on social media can have negative effects. The Journal of Adolescent Health published a study that found media violence contributes to higher levels of antisocial behavior. It also makes the viewer less sympathetic of the fight, and more empathetic towards the fighters.

“I don’t think it’s right to post videos of people fighting,” senior Rachel Cargile said. “It’s very uncomfortable to watch people fight. It shows [people who watch fights] that it’s cool to fight, and that it is a way to become famous.”

Junior Noah Reeves said that he watches videos of fights because they’re funny and exciting. He said that they don’t promote violence and that only ignorant people will watch fights and then go out and do the same.

“I think it’s completewebFighting-Infographic-331x475ly fine to post videos of fights,” sophomore JJ VanDeventer said, “because what if the fight or the people fighting went to court? Then [they] could use the video as evidence.”

Principal Gary Brown said that the act of fighting at school itself is a violation, punishable by at least three days in in-school suspension (ISS). But the posting of videos of fights is not a violation. Brown said that the only time it starts to bleed into the school’s policy’s procedure is if it transcends into the school day and disrupts it.

“There isn’t anything, legally, that I would say is wrong about posting fights,” Brown said, “but I would believe that there is something [morally and ethically wrong] about posting something about someone without their permission.”

A recent Southern Accent survey showed that a majority of students feel students who post videos of fights on social media should not be punished. Junior Kelli Kissinger agrees.

“It’s not very smart to [post fights], but it’s not breaking any laws,” Kissinger said. “I don’t think people will directly watch fights and then go out and do it. It’s like watching UFC.”