EDITOR’S DESK: We've prayed for Drew; now let's find #justicefordrew

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at 02:37 PM.

Have you ever noticed which topics and content trend on social media?

It might surprise you.

YouTube's trending videos, as of this writing, are "Kids React to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," 25.9 million views; "Weird Al" Yankovic's music video, "Lame Claim to Fame," 966,000 views; "Moon Animate Make-Up," 225,000 views; "Moon Pride ... / SailorMoon Crystal OP theme," 1.2 million views; and "Dave Franco & Conan Join Tinder," 2.3 million views.

These aren't the top five YouTube videos of all time, of course; "trending" just  means these are the videos holding most viewers' interest right now.

First of all, I didn't know "Sailor Moon" was still that popular; that show was on when I was a child. Ditto for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." And "Weird Al" has been around for awhile, too! Then again, so has Conan O'Brien.

You could conclude, from this data, that these brands have endured the test of time.

Another thing each has in common with the others? They're all entertainment. Well, one, I'm sorry, is unnecessary viewing and caters to people with too much time on their hands. (That would be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles one. It's not "Ninja Turtles" the show; it just shows kids watching the show's theme song and, well, reacting to it.) But I digress.

Twitter trends, for a newsman, are more encouraging.

The hashtags MH17, AIDS2014, WorseMoonLandingQuotes, Gaza and Hamas are in the top five. (Of course, the list will look completely different when you read this.)

A number of these topics actually affect a significant number of people.

There's plenty of discussion about the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash; a Buk surface-to-air missile purportedly shot down the plane, which carried 283 passengers and 15 crew members, according to the Associated Press.

People also are talking about the death count in Gaza exceeding 500 and Hamas's civilian death strategy; they're discussing the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia and the importance of spreading HIV awareness — and, on top of that, they're sharing humorous alternative moon landing quotes, thanks to a prompt from Comedy Central's "@Midnight" series.  

All in 140 characters or less.

Never underestimate the power of a hashtag.

Atlanta resident Lacy Gatlin, 23, grew up in Crestview, was spiritually fed at Emmanuel Baptist Church, and just wanted to help her friends, the Barefield family, after learning that 12-year-old Drew was critically injured in a boating accident. He was hit by a boat propeller on June 28 while snorkeling in shallow water off Walton County’s Choctaw Beach. The boat driver left the scene of the accident.

So Lacy created a graphic for her Facebook profile photo. It said "#prayfordrew Hebrews 10:23." The referenced Bible passage states, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;"

The next morning, 100 people used the graphic as their profile photo.

Shortly later, the hashtag caught on. It's on BBVA Compass Bank's and McDonald's signs in Crestview, respectively. It's on T-shirts, bracelets and coffee mugs.

It's on social media, too, with a Prayers for Drew Facebook page, and on Twitter, although other residents across the country are praying for other Drews and have used the same hashtag.

Locally, though, a large number of residents understand who we're all praying for: Drew Barefield.

Something as simple as a hashtag, along with goodhearted residents' support and some movers and shakers' involvement, started what I'd have to call a movement. The Barefields have support that far surpasses their family, friends and church. They have the community's support, in large part, due to this hashtag going viral.

It's all surprising to #prayfordrew's creator.

"I can't believe it," Lacy, a worship leader, said when I interviewed her on Thursday. "I was for sure my church would pick it up, my friends (too) ... but I had no idea ... it's very humbling."

It's very inspiring, from this vantage.

But while Drew appears to progress toward recovery, based on family and friends' accounts, the question remains: What about the boat driver who allegedly fled the scene of the crime? 

Florida Fish and Wildlife  Conservation Commission investigators confiscated a boat in Okaloosa County as part of their investigation, according to Tom McLaughlin's report in the Northwest Florida Daily News.

The owner is cooperating, but there's no confirmed evidence yet that this boat was involved in the Barefield incident, according to his report.

“The best way to characterize it is that this is going to be a lengthy investigation,” Stan Kirkland, FWC spokesman, told McLaughlin.

Here's hoping investigators learn the identity of just who didn't accept responsibility for this incident.

And on that note, I think another hashtag should spread: #justicefordrew.

What's your view? Write a letter to the editor or tweet News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni.

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