By The Bakersfield Californian
Almost nothing good happens on the street at 3:47 a.m. Of that we can be certain. At that in-between time, long after restaurants and movie theaters have closed and well before the earliest of pre-dawn workers have left home to begin their shifts, the risk of encountering a fatigued or otherwise compromised driver rachets up a few notches.
We were, tragically, reminded of that likelihood early Monday morning when Martin William Juarez, 33, allegedly drunk, drove on the wrong side of the Coffee Road median and slammed head-on into a carload of teens. The driver of that car, recent Frontier High School graduate Breana Webb, was killed. Speculation driven by social media conversations posted earlier that evening by Webb and others has led many to wonder if she may have been drinking as well. And if she had, might it have negatively affected her reaction time? It's too soon to say, and we may never know. Regardless, Webb, who was 18, and her three passengers, ages not known, were at risk based on time, place and circumstances.
That in no way reduces the culpability of the driver of the wrong-way vehicle. Investigators seem certain he was the cause of this horror, not anyone else. But at this time we simply know little about him and quite a lot about the victims. But there's a reason for that, and teens ought to process that lesson as carefully as they process the consequences of 3:47 a.m. car rides: social media affords very little privacy.
Teens are so accustomed to and comfortable with Twitter, Facebook and other social media venues, they may not consider the fact that not every potential "friend" or "follower" is a friend they may want following them. But they have voluntarily ceded their right to privacy. Their private tragedies become public tragedies.
The bigger, more immediate risk with social media, of course, is that those who might do teens (or anyone) harm in some way can find them, learn personal details and act on that knowledge. Less ominously, prospective employers and other influential adults may stumble upon unflattering information best left private.
Teens, and the rest of us, will do ourselves favors by pondering both of those harsh lessons.