Lil JoJo, Chicago's Gang Wars and Social Media


As social media sites like Twitter and Facebook continue to change the way we communicate, they also affect the way we live — and, sometimes, die. Case in point: the short life of rap artist Lil JoJo.

Wired magazine's Ben Austen looks at the late Chicago teen's death, his rivalry with fellow Chicago rapper Chief Keef and the role that social media played in that rivalry. Both were young rappers from rival gangs in the city's South Side when online spats culminated in an offline shooting that took the life of 18-year-old Lil JoJo, whose real name was Joseph Coleman. This, in turn, sparked a series of retaliatory murders, including the death of an 18-year-old wearing a JoJo sweatshirt.


Austen also looks at how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are used in gang wars, which are heavy contributors to Chicago's skyrocketing murder rate:

There’s a term sometimes used for a gangbanger who stirs up trouble online: Facebook driller. He rolls out of bed in the morning, rubs his eyes, picks up his phone. Then he gets on Facebook and starts insulting some person he barely knows, someone in a rival crew. It’s so much easier to do online than face-to-face. Soon someone else takes a screenshot of the post and starts passing it around. It’s one thing to get cursed out in front of four or five guys, but online the whole neighborhood can see it — the whole city, even. So the target has to retaliate just to save face. And at that point, the quarrel might be with not just the Facebook driller a few blocks away but also haters 10 miles north or west who responded to the post. What started as a provocation online winds up with someone getting drilled in real life.

Read more at Wired.

Tracy Clayton is a writer, humorist and blogger from Louisville, Ky.