Desperate for Fame and Followers: Internet Beefs Rage

From video beat-downs to Twitter gang wars, social media exposes and escalates violence and bad behavior.

Qawmane Wilson, aka Young QC Instagram

Lil Jojo’s aunt, Sonia Mares-DuBose, said that his family was aware of Chief Keef’s Twitter message, and her question when talking to the Chicago Sun-Times was, “How do you go on Twitter and brag about it?”

The war of words in 140 characters is a war that amounts to little in the way of viable gains, as there is no oil in “Chiraq” (as the gangs call Chicago). The value being fought over will never have tangible currency beyond Twitter followers, @’s or re-tweets.

For these young people, the price of Internet fame is infamy and, in some cases, death. Their beefs no longer happen in silence, and neither do fights. They are taped and shared and tweeted about.

A month ago two young women got into an argument over a boy. It ended when 16-year-old Sharkeisha Thompson reached back wide and laid 17-year-old ShaMichael Manuel out. It was brutal, and it was taped and bragged about online.

Sharkeisha took to Twitter to say she had knocked the girl out. Within minutes she had another 30,000 followers.

Sharkeisha’s punch wasn’t just a neighborhood squabble between two young ladies. It is the outstretched arm rearing back to wallop her victim played on repeat. It is a meme, a trending topic, and it may be the most devastating moment of both of the young women’s lives.

The footage will live longer than the memory, Sharkeisha’s antics analyzed to a level, which is uncomfortable, and her unique name now a verb.

ShaMichael would tell the New York Daily News that she was humiliated and wished the video would disappear. “I’m going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life,” she said.

This is what social media now does. It archives the awkwardness and even the violence of youth, broadcasting these formidable years of adolescent idiocy. In the social media cafeteria of who gets to sit at the cool table, “followers” and “likes” have raised the stakes for those who are desperate to be relevant.

But Qawmane Wilson, aka Young QC, sits alone at the far end of this spectrum.