Dialogue and Staging
Nov. 26, 2019
Freedom of Screens
Taylor Jenkins: An insecure teenage girl trying to overcome her depression and weight gain due to bullying at school
Murphy White: A teenage boy who has learned the power he can have when hiding behind a computer screen
Thomas Jefferson (TJ)*: A wise young man, President of a law firm, who strongly fights for a change in the usage of social media platforms. TJ also has a strong faith that is his foundation (also a founding father of the first amendment, “freedom of speech” and 3rdpresident of US)
Having watched one of my best friends lose her sister to suicide and bullying, this all too familiar scenario is a heavy but necessary subject to address. While what may seem like a joking manner at first, often turns into an unintended situation. Words have a powerful impact on the person on the other end. The first Amendment gives us freedom of speech, the right to pray, and the freedom to write. Our founding fathers wrote the amendments in a time of feather pens and scrolls, not mouse pads and keyboards. These amendments were not meant to justify belittling someone, but to empower yourself without fear of being punished. The right has been abused. Freedom of speech means speaking aloud and proud, not hiding behind a screen never to face the horrors of what has truly been said. We don’t know the strength of our own words until the unthinkable happens. Well, the unthinkable happens…often… this, was not the intention of founding fathers had when ratifying the Bill of Rights in 1791. Where did this misinterpretation happen and when will it be fixed?
Act 1 Scene 1
Don’t Say It
2018, 228 years after the founding fathers had ratified the Bill of Rights. An internet group chat brought 3 strangers into deep conversation. All 3 sit comfortably in their separate homes behind a screen eagerly awaiting each other’s responses.
*clicking of keys*
Taylor:Confidently posts an instagram picture of herself wearing her new bathing suite. Caption: “Summer lovin’. Feeling good and happy to continue my weight loss journey! Thanks for everyone’s support”
Murphy:Lounging in his gaming chair still wearing the pajamas from last night.
Who could “love” you?
TJ:Dislikes Murphy’s comment
Murphy:@TJ did you have something you wanted to say to me? You’re somewhere sitting in a chair trying to secretly show your disappointment of my comment?
TJ:Sitting with his back straight at his new desk wearing a freshly hemmed suit
I just wanted to make sure @Taylor knew I didn’t agree with you…
Murphy:Oh, so you’re telling me you think this ugly ass bitch should keep putting us all through misery by forcing us to feast our eyes on the extra flabs of skin she has?
TJ: I think people like her are using their social media platforms to promote self-confidence and encourage others to do so as well, unlike you @Murphy who feels the need to attack a complete stranger about something she is proud of. Why don’t you try and be a little more sensitive of what you are saying? You are free to speak as you please, but please, let it be used for good.
Taylor:@TJ, Hi, you are really kind… but you don’t need to defend me, I am used to it.
TJ:You shouldn’t be used to it…
Murphy: I shouldn’t have to get used to seeing her on my timeline, @taylor how about you delete your post, put a sweater on and get off my feed.
TJ:Cracks knuckles and tightens his neck tie
@Murphy Really? That comment is extremely uncalled for.
Murphy:Uh, yeah. Really, BRO. GTFO!!
TJ:@Taylor you are beautiful, don’t listen to him. You have every right to share whatever you please on your own page. Expressing your true self is what free speech is for. Don’t let evil comments destroy the beauty within you.
Taylor: That’s what I hear all the time, but that’s just the thing… I’m not “listening’ to him, but I get notified with every comment someone makes. I’m not “listening”, but I cannot simply “unread” what has already been written. I am not “listening”, but I can feelthe words I am reading.
Murphy:You could just not have an account, that’d save all of us the trouble. Y’all need to have a pity party and cry over it together.
Taylor:So I can make people like you feel better about themselves?
Logs off computer out of frustration
TJ:@Murphy Feel good about yourself yet?
Murphy:I hope she never logs back on. How can you even defend someone like her? You’re just trying to be the “good guy”. Hate to tell ya, pal… no one likes the good guy.
TJ: I hope she does, despite you. I am not aspiring to be the “good guy”, I see someone being treated poorly and feel it is my duty to make it right.
Murphy:Smells armpit and contemplates taking a shower
Whatever. Then I hope she does log back in so I can remind her of how much I can’t stand to look at her.
TJ:You are crude. I’m not sure why you feel it is acceptable to speak to another human in such a way?
Murphy:The same reason @Taylor has for exposing us to her nauseating self… because I can!
Taylor:Logs back on
Can you please just stop? Please. Just unfollow me.
Murphy:Well, I could, but then I wouldn’t be able watch you embarrass yourself anymore. I don’t imagine anyone would actually wantto admit to thinking you are remotely close to “beautiful”. I’m thinkin’ ‘bout making a new group where everyone just hates on everything you post. Don’t worry @Taylor, you’ll totally be included.
TJ:@Murphy, What makes you any better than her? If anything, you are an atrocity to our society.
Murphy:An “atrocity”? Who do you think you are, the President? Why do you get to dictate what is and isn’t good for our society?
TJ:Those that can give up essential liberty to gain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. You are using the protection of your computer screen to defeat others in order to satisfy your own gratifications. Seems to me you have some problems of your own to figure out before you start degrading others.
Taylor:@Murphy You don’t understand what you are doing to me…
Murphy:@Taylor fuck off. @TJ is the one person who thinks you deserve a second of their time. TJ, that’s funny you say that because the 1stamendment states I have the right to say whatever I want; when I want ; and how I want. So, thank you, goodbye.
Swipeshands together as if thinking he settled the argument
TJ:Smirks at his ignorance
Well, if you were the intellectual you claim to be, you’d know that the first amendment does not apply to private organizations, so really, your words on this cite are not protected.
Murphy:What are you going to do about then? Report me? Go ahead. I’ll just make another account. @Taylor, you gonna fight your own battles or let your new sugar daddy do it for you?
Taylor:Wipes tears from eyes while watching the messages continue to come
TJ:@Murphy You are abusing the advancements and opportunities technology has given us.
Murphy:You can’t take care of yourself? Go get a facial, take a self-defense class and talk to me when you want to stand up for yourself.
You should just kill yourself.
Taylor:Speechless, continues watching messages scroll
TJ:You don’t have to take this from him! @Murphy Enough!
Murphy:You have one friend, you don’t know where he lives or even his last name. Give up.
Taylor:Shuts laptop and walks out of room with tears streaming down her face
TJ:@Murphy Be done.
Murphy:She needs to hear it. Just do it @Taylor Nobody loves you.
Taylor:Walks back into her room with bottle of pills
TJ:You will never know how much it has cost generations before us to preserve our freedom. You are making terrible use of it! Stop it!
Taylor:@Murphy You. Are. Right.
(waits for them to start entering her system)
Are you there?
Are you okay?
Murphy and TJ:Stare at their screens in shock
Murphy:I take it back.
Taylor: Loses consciousness
TJ: …you can’t take them back…
She’s gone… this wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. No person to take their own life because of the words of another.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
And you… @Murphy forced her out of all of these.
Murphy: I’m sorry, I really just…
TJ: Sorry will do nothing for her
Murphy: But I just thought…
TJ: You thought wrong
Murphy: I didn’t realize…
I didn’t know..
It wasn’t my intention to…
TJ: It’s too late
Taylor: Falls to the floor
“Founding Fathers Quotes from America’s Courageous Revolutionaries.” Ammo.com, ammo.com/articles/founding-fathers-quotes.
“Thomas Jefferson Quotes.” BrainyQuote, Xplore, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/thomas_jefferson_157212.
“Thomas Jefferson.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 5 Sept. 2019, www.biography.com/us-president/thomas-jefferson.
Willingham, AJ. “The First Amendment Doesn’t Guarantee You the Rights You Think It Does.” CNN, Cable News Network, 6 Sept. 2018, www.cnn.com/2017/04/27/politics/first-amendment-explainer-trnd/index.html.