first published on March 16, 2017 by Josh
A nude photo scandal, based around revenge porn, is now crippling the entirety of the United States Marine Corps. A private Facebook group, known as Marines United, full of active duty and veteran service members from multiple branches is at the root of the problem. You would have to be living underneath a rock to not already know about this issue, and even retired Air Force JAG officers are calling for the resignation of the Commandant of The Marine Corps over the media feeding frenzy.
That is not what this article is about. We could easily write up several hundred words parroting the narrative of several news agencies. We could very easily say that this is a Marine Corps problem, and that the Marines needs to sort it out right now. It would be simple to slap together something like that, and push the story out the door without giving it a second thought until it was time for a follow up report, but that’s not what we’re going to do here.
This nude photo scandal isn’t a Marine Corps issue. It’s not an Army issue. It’s not a Navy issue, and its not an Air Force or Coast Guard issue. Hell, I’ll even go out on a limb and say this is not an issue that the Departments of Defense, State, or even Transportation are equipped to address, because the greater problem lies within the internet culture we live in today. Saying that a private Facebook group, with only 30,000 members, titled Marines United is a direct representation of the entire Marine Corps is simply a lie. If it were even close to a direct representation of the Marine Corps, the number of members would have been closer to 600,000 and the page would have been titled Terminal Lance.
The core values of the United States Marine Corps are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. An overwhelming majority of Marines that I have interacted with, and I’ve interacted with quite a few in the 8 years I spent in the operating forces of the institution, takes those values to heart. They conduct themselves in the best way they know how, and follow the guidance of their senior leadership to the letter. If they didn’t, there would be no way the institution could have achieved the storied history that they have since their inception. Even the person who broke this story, a Marine Staff Sergeant who was a participating and offending member of the private group for quite some time, showed those core values in reporting the issue, even if he omitted the fact that he was part of the invite only group himself.
The real problem lies deeper then any one organization. Not one group of people can take the blame for our society. In today’s internet age, it is extremely easy to forget that the actions you take in a non-physical world have consequences in reality. When you send an MMS or SMS text message, fire off a Facebook message, send out that Snapchat picture, or otherwise make any post on any public forum, you feel disconnected from the reality and gravity of that situation. This ranges from posting revenge porn of a person you used to have feelings for, to sending out those nude photographs yourself. Every action has a reaction, and some people seem to have forgotten that the things we do have consequences, even when those actions are taken in the digital world.
Trying to pin the blame of society on one organization is a scapegoating maneuver at best. One Facebook group was outed, but if Facebook and other Social Media pages pulled back the lid on every private group and conducted manual investigations, they would find literally hundreds of thousands of private groups, ranging from high-school students to politicians, conducting themselves in a manner that is unbecoming and culturally inappropriate in the real world. These types of actions have been happening since the inception of the Internet, and we will only see it continue to grow worse and worse as our culture leans more towards the internet as a forum for conversation.
Don’t believe me? Spend 20 minutes on Tumblr or Reddit and see how deep down the NSFW rabbit-hole you can go before you feel the need to vomit.